ALBERT PATRICK (PAT) THOMAS, JR
At 12:45 am, on June 13, 2014 surrounded by family, 94 year old Pat Thomas, and member of the "Greatest Generation", passed away and into the loving arms of his God and Savior. He was a remarkable man! Referred to by his family and many of those who knew him as the "bravest, most courageous, and yet, most gentle man" they had ever known...a truly rare combination of human traits. He spent his entire professional life in the West Texas towns of, Ranger, Abilene, San Angelo, and Midland...but he always maintained the "roots of his raisin', a true Southern Gentleman, having been born and raised as the youngest of eight children on a rural farm in Newton, Mississippi, on November 14, 1919, the son of Albert Patrick and Virginia (Jennie) Agnes Weir Thomas, Sr. He was preceded in death by his beautiful wife of 66 years, "Jeanie Babe", Dorotha Jean Bruce Thomas of Ranger, TX.
Upon graduation from Newton High School, he became the first of his family to graduate from college, first attending Decatur Junior College and then the University of Southern Mississippi on a full football scholarship. After graduating in 1941, he entered the Officer's Candidate School in the U.S. Navy at the University of Notre Dame.
No one can ever truly explain why so many sacrifice their life while others almost inexplicably survive, but the young Lieutenant Pat Thomas was one of the fortunate who did. As Boat Wave Commander of the First Wave, he, along with his good friend, John Fansmith, from Baltimore, MD, led the first wave 0f not just one, but the Amphibious Invasions of the enemy Japanese-held islands of Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, Leyte, Luzon, and Okinawa. Despite constant enemy air attacks, shell, and mortar fire, Lt. Thomas performed his vital duties with courage and skill…even surviving a direct hit to his boat in which 1/3 of his men were killed immediately. He was awarded his country's Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star, and a Citation from the Commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral C. W. Nimitz and the Secretary of the Navy, for his "inspiring leadership, tenacious devotion to duty and unselfish efforts on behalf of his companions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United Stated Navel Service."
Before his duty in the Pacific, one of the personal highlights of Daddy's Naval Career, was as very young 22 year old Lieutenant serving on the USS Monrovia in her first assault assignment in the Mediterranean. As fortune would have it, he was serving as Officer of the Day on June 30, 1943, when Lt. General George S. Patton, asked permission from the young Lieutenant to "come aboard". He was then entrusted with landing General Patton on the island of Sicily. Daddy said Patton was the most inspiring, commanding 'presence' he ever had ever known. After safely transporting Patton, the Monrovia was reassigned to the Pacific…where all the 'fun' began…and also, as fate would have it, Daddy was again Officer of the day when General Douglas MacArthur requested permission from Daddy to "Come Aboard".
Daddy was a salesman. He enjoyed a long and successful career with Ralston Purina Feed Company from 1957 until 1990, when at age 70 he was forced to retire. In his final year with Purina at age 70, he was Purina's #1 Salesman in the United States.
His proudest accomplishment, however, was his family, and being a life-long member of the United Methodist Church, serving in numerous lay leadership positions, as Sunday School teacher at both St. Paul UMC in Abilene and the First United Methodist Church in Midland, and being a life-long supporter of the United Methodist's Children Home in Waco, TX.
He is survived by son Albert Patrick (Rick) Thomas III, and his children Patrick IV, and Sarah Thomas of Nashville, TN; son Bruce Phillip Thomas (Jere) of Sterling City, TX, and their children Phillip (Molly) Thomas of Elgin, TX, Lee Pat Thomas of Lubbock, TX, Janell (Paige) Dempsey of Abilene, TX, and April (Drew) Reed of Shallowater, TX.; son David Michael Thomas, deceased, and widow Carla Thomas of Euless, TX, and their children, Brad (Mary) Thomas of Denton, TX, Darin (Emily) Thomas of Fort Worth, TX, and Jennifer Schumacher of Euless, TX; daughter Sylvia Thomas Barritt (Duane), and her children, Molly (Kris) Powell of Dallas, TX, and Morgan Cook of Lubbock, TX.
Pat is also survived by his 12 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A visitation will be held from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Monday, June 16, 2014 at Ellis Funeral Home in Midland, TX. Funeral services will be at 10:00 am on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at the First United Methodist Church, 300 North Main, Midland, TX with burial at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at the Texas State Veterans' Cemetery, 7457 West Lake Rd., Abilene, TX.
Services are entrusted with Ellis Funeral Home in Midland, TX. Online condolences may be offered at www.ellisfunerals.com