SNELLVILLE - When Dr. Thomas Lois established his cosmetic and reconstructive surgery practice nearly three decades ago in Gwinnett County, there were farms and cows along Pleasant Hill Road.
As Gwinnett grew, so did Lois' Snellville-based practice. The respected surgeon built his career through word of mouth, said Jeannie Bright, his friend of 36 years.
"He was a phenomenal man that made a huge impact on so many lives," Bright said.
Lois died unexpectedly Sunday of a medical issue. He was 63. Funeral services were held Tuesday.
The first plastic surgeon in Gwinnett County, Lois was a voracious learner who loved to read and attend seminars, Bright said.
"He was always on the cutting edge. He was always just ahead of everything," Bright said. "He would follow a thread to the nth degree about treatments and new procedures. ... He was so interested in learning and being able to give that back."
When Lois first moved to Gwinnett, he was on-call with five hospitals and would answer calls at any hour, Bright said. He later founded The Aesthetic Institute and Estetica Skin and Laser Center.
But Lois' biggest success, Bright said, was the relationships he developed with so many people.
"He made everyone feel so unique and special," she said.
Lois' son, Anthony "Tony" Lois, agreed: "Every person he saw, he saw the good in them."
Tony Lois said his father worked hard but loved his work. He was energetic and always had to have a project to work on.
"He just embraced life," Tony Lois said.
Lois was a multifaceted individual, Bright said. He went river rafting, jumped out of an airplane and attended the Olympics with his son. He loved his cats - his favorite was named Mr. Skinny. And, more than anything, he enjoyed being a "pappou" and spending time with his grandson. He was also looking forward to meeting his granddaughter, who is due in July.
Bright described her friend as "larger than life."
"He was someone you would never forget," she said.