His Story, His Way: Lonnie Thomas, Southwest Engineer


Carter Houdek, Featured Writer

Lonnie was born way down South in Louisiana. He started working two jobs when he was 15, and hasn’t gone a week without working since then. At age 16 his parents separated and his mom moved up North to our beautiful state, while his dad stayed down below. During the summer he would move up here to live with his mom. During the school year he had to move back down to Louisiana with his dad, and eventually graduated there. After graduating he got a full college scholarship for track and field, but he wanted something different. He wanted to go into the military. 

After doing four years he came back and got right to work with his next career: TV and radio Broadcasting. He simultaneously attended school and worked as an intern for a radio station called KMLJ, which played on 89.9. One day, while the actual radio host was in the bathroom, Lonnie wanted to get some practice in before his class, and he took a seat next to the mic. While doing his thing, he accidentally went on air. Luckily for him, the people loved him. He would talk to a listener as they told him what was happening in their life, and he’d play music that personified their feelings. Most of his listeners were in love, so he became known as the Love Doctor.

He could have got hired as a radio host once his internship ended, but he wanted to pursue his dream of being a cam operator. He moved to California to get into the Hollywood scene. It didn’t work out, and he ended up as a janitor for Hollywood Studios. Eventually moving back to the state he fell in love with, he got a job here at Southwest and he’s stuck with us ever since.

Lonnie loves working here at Southwest, but it’s not perfect. When asked about the most annoying thing students do, he said “Bottles, cans, chip bags, it’s like they just forget about it. Hold it till you find a trash can, and we got trash cans all around the building…What you see is what we got, and there should be a lot more of us, so help us out.”

During the summer, the work gets much worse. The three engineers have to put new wax on the entire building, and this entails a lot more than one might think. They first have to remove all the furniture, then remove the wax, then they can finally begin adding new layers of wax. Each room takes around five layers of wax, and all of these are applied by Lonnie himself because they say he’s the best at it. 

For more information about Lonnie’s life and personal experiences read My story My way by Lonnie Thomas