Born: October 18, 1917
Died: April 23, 2013
Thomas L. Thomas Sr., age 95, a resident of Wheaton, IL, died April 23, 2013, at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. He was born on October 18, 1917 in Chicago to Thomas and Lillian Thomas.
After being orphaned in 1924, Thomas and his brothers lived at the Bensenville Home. He graduated from Parker High School on Chicago's south side and then attended the University of IL. He enlisted in the National Guard, where he played the French horn in the band. At the onset of WWII he joined the Army Air Corps and eagerly learned to fly. He enjoyed flying and was disappointed when he was assigned as a navigator. Just before shipping out he married his sweetheart, Marie Grych. He served as a navigator on a B-17 and on his 13th mission in May of 1943 was shot down. He spent the next year as a P.O.W. at Stalag Luft III and survived the winter death march.
Following the war Thomas graduated from the University of IL and began a career at Northern IL Gas that lasted over 40 years. He earned a masters degree from the University of Chicago in 1969.
His loyal military service continued as he served in the USAF Reserves from 1946 until 1967 and retired as a Major. He did not forget his Air Force friends and served as Secretary/treasurer for the 96th Bomb Group Assn., President of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, and for many years was president of the 8th Air Force Memorial Museum Foundation. He also was president of The Retired Officers Association in West Suburban Chicago.
Thomas also loved to serve with the Boy Scouts and was a leader in Troop 23 in Wheaton. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and the VFW. He enjoyed playing the French horn, classical music and loved to travel. His biography, titled "Never Give Up" was written in 2004.
His faith was an important part of his life. He read the Bible and prayed daily and was a member of St. Matthew United Church of Christ.
He is survived by his wife Barbara Stephenson-Thomas, his sister, Betty Thomas, one nephew, Scott (Mary Ellen) Thomas, three nieces Cathy Key, Robin Thomas and Peggy (Robert) Braden, and his daughter-in-law Lauri Thomas.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Marie Thomas, his son Thomas L. Thomas Jr., his brothers Fred, Richard and William, and his sister Mary.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, April 25, from 4:00 until 8:00 p.m. at Hultgren Funeral Home, 304 N. Main St. in Wheaton. A funeral service will be held on Friday, April 26, at 1:00 p.m. at St. Matthew United Church of Christ, 1420 S. Gables Blvd., Wheaton, IL 60189. Interment and military honors will follow at Wheaton Cemetery in Wheaton, Illinois.
Memorial gifts may be directed to Boy Scout troop #23, c/o 304 N. Main St., Wheaton, IL 60187.
Family and friends may sign a guest book at hultgrenfh.com. For more information, please call Hultgren Funeral Home at 630-668-0027.