Meredith Israel Thomas, Former RCA Records Exec, Dies at 39
The former publicist for Kings of Leon and Dave Matthews Band shared the experience of her battle with breast cancer via a deeply moving online journal.
Former RCA Records publicist Meredith Israel Thomas, who shared the experience of her battle with breast cancer via a deeply moving CaringBridge page, died late Friday night. She was 39.
"After an epic and inspirational struggle Meredith passed away at 11.11 p.m. last night," reads an entry written by her husband Gary Thomas on Dec. 21. "We were all with her holding her hands and telling her how much we loved her as she fought so hard for her last few breaths. It was hard and very sad to be part of her final journey but I am certainly a far better person from having had Meredith at my side. She died with dignity and grace as she had lived her life."
Over the years, Israel had worked with many RCA artists including Kings of Leon and Dave Matthews Band. Over the past few months, her brave posts on the CaringBridge page captured the hearts of many -- she wrote that she hoped the entries would give her five-year-old daughter Niomi a sense of who her mother was.
Tributes to Israel have flooded her Facebook page, where friends and former colleagues have been posting messages and photos.
Read more about Meredit Israel's story in a THR post published in October.
Her full obituary is below:
Meredith Sue Israel Thomas
Memorial services were held this morning in Manhattan for Meredith Sue Israel Thomas who passed away at 11:11pm Friday night, December 21, after nearly four years of battling cancer. As part of her healing campaign, the 39-year-old former RCA Records publicist had become an accomplished cancer fundraiser, early detection advocate and a widely read journalist on Caringbridge.org.
Born June 25, 1973, and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Meredith excelled at gymnastics in grade school and aspired to be a veterinarian. Despite her long distance love for the Duke University Blue Devils, she attended Syracuse University and blossomed in the AEPi sorority.
Upon graduation, she moved to New York City and landed a job as one of designer Donna Karan’s assistants. After several years of invaluable training, she pursed a job in the field of her passion and landed a pivotal position as assistant to RCA Records President Jack Rovner. He explained, “At that time, our task was to rebuild the label and we did by changing the culture. Meredith was at the center of it all. Her energy, sense of community and fun made her the heart and soul of the new RCA.” Promoted to the role of publicist in early ’01, she worked closely with artists like the Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, Christina Aguilera, Lit, and Heather Headley.
After a strong run in the music business, Israel-Thomas expanded her universe by working in talent booking and then, the world of event hospitality and food publicity. She moved to Miami in ’05 to serve as a senior account executive at Tara Inc. and then, joined the China Grill Management team, doing publicity and marketing for the boutique upscale chain. She met her husband Gary Thomas during her time there, gave birth to her daughter Niomi in ’07 and started MSI Relations, her own PR business.
Shortly after being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in the summer of ’08, Meredith and her family moved back to New York City. She began an intense chemotherapy regimen and continued to endure a variety of different test therapies under the care of Memorial Sloan Kettering. Israel-Thomas began blogging through Caringbridge.org and advocating early cancer detection practices while actively fund raising for several organizations. She appeared on Today, Good Morning America, and in other local and national media as a spokeswoman for the cause.
The honesty and bluntness of her journaling attracted nearly 400,000 visits at Caringbridge. She studied at the Gotham School of Writing earlier this year. Her story was further spread by Facebook, the Huffington Post, the Miami Herald, AOL.com and the Daily Mail, among others. Meredith’s fundraising efforts on behalf of Max Cure and the Pediatric Children’s Relief Foundation’s “Cookies for Cancer” brought tens of thousands of dollars to the organizations.
She is survived by her daughter Niomi Thomas, her husband Gary Thomas, parents Laurie and Joel Israel and brother Hank Israel. In lieu of flowers, donations are invited in Meredith’s memory to one of the following:
Breast Cancer Research Foundation: donations.bcrfcure.org
Entertainment Industry Foundation, Revlon Walk, www.eifoundation.org/donate, under Miles4Meredith-Meredith Israel Thomas
Dr. Mark Robson Foundation, c/o Ms. Jane Wyeth, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065