William Thomas Jr.

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THOMAS, JR., MD, WILLIAM NATHANIEL, 94, previously of the Annapolis area, died suddenly November 5, 2013 at Arleigh-Burke Assisted Living in McLean, VA. He was born in Jackson, Mississippi on June 30, 1919 to Rear Admiral William Nathaniel Thomas, Chief of Chaplains, USN and Ellen Thomas. His father served two tours as Chaplain at the United States Naval Academy, the last as Command Chaplain, and authored the "Midshipman's Prayer." Because of his father's military career, he lived in Colorado, California, Hawaii and Switzerland, where he attended boarding school, as well as on the grounds of the Naval Academy. At the age of nine he saw Babe Ruth hit a home run out of Nationals Park in Washington DC; later, he attended the openings of "Grand Hotel" in 1932 and "King Kong" in 1933 in Hollywood with his father. As a teenager he was an extra in the movie, "Navy Blue and Gold," filmed in Annapolis. He graduated from Annapolis High School in 1936. Eye exercises did not correct his need for prescription lenses, thereby preventing him from attending the Naval Academy; consequently, he attended the University of Virginia, Charlottesville and, because of the war, graduated in 1942 after two years of pre-med and four years of medical school. He was the youngest graduate in his class. His medical internship was at the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, and in October of 1943 he received his Naval Commission from FDR. He attained the rank of Lieutenant in the Medical Corps, thereby achieving his desire for a naval career. He served in the South Pacific, where he recalled attending performances by Bob Hope and other Hollywood stars. He landed with the first troops on Okinawa with the 1st Marine Division as a battalion surgeon. He was seriously wounded and evacuated three weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima. He recovered at Bethesda Naval Hospital and emerged with partial paralysis of his right hand, effectively ending his naval career. He received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart. He spent time at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed during his radiological training, where he x-rayed some Civil War fractures. Returning to Annapolis in 1951 as the first radiologist in Anne Arundel County, he lived with Captain P. V. H. and Margaret Weems, who claimed that she introduced him to his future wife. In 1952 he married Helen Ephland Templeton, who had three sons, and they had another son in 1953. Dr. Thomas was the first Chief of Radiology at Anne Arundel General Hospital in Annapolis from 1952 until 1958, and in 1954 he founded its School of Radiologic Technology. He was a charter member in 1953 of the Maryland Radiological Society and president in 1956. He helped establish the radiology department at North Arundel Hospital, now BWMC, in Glen Burnie, and was the first Chief of Radiology there in 1965. He was later the President of the Medical Staff for two terms. He also established radiology departments at six additional hospitals. His private group of radiologists grew to one of the largest radiology groups in Maryland. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland and on the faculty a total of 37 years. He was later an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia until his retirement in 2002, when he was the oldest active faculty member in radiology. Mrs. Thomas became a radiological technician, they worked together, and they volunteered for six tours with Project Hope on the hospital ship. He always said they "had a marriage made in heaven." They lived in the Linstead Community in Severna Park and attended Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America and the Chamber of Commerce of Annapolis. They sponsored a radiological assistant from Peru, Aurelio "Leo" Goicochea, who lived with the family and remained close. Dr. Thomas belonged to the Rotary Clubs of Annapolis and Severna Park and later had a tour of duty as Commodore of the Rotary Club International yacht squadron. They were avid sailors and traveled extensively throughout the world. Dr. Thomas enjoyed learning Romance languages, films, camping, swimming and sailing. They moved to Vinson Hall in McLean, VA in 1984 where they actively participated in the community. Dr. Thomas enjoyed working and did so part-time until the age of 83. His wife, Helen, passed away in March of 2006 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He attended weekly chapel services and had a close relationship with Chaplain Scott Harrison. At the time of his death, he had lived at Vinson Hall for 29 years, the longest of any resident. He was kind, discerning and truly loved by all friends and colleagues. He was a devoted husband and a good doctor. Dr. Thomas was preceded in death by his parents, Chaplain and Mrs. Thomas, brother John Thomas, wife Helen Thomas, and sons James "Jay" Templeton and William Thomas III. He is survived by his sons, Cleave Templeton (Elizabeth) of Tasmania, Australia, Richard Templeton (Pil Ju) of Annapolis and daughter-in-law Judy Templeton of Annapolis. Grandchildren include Cardie Templeton of Annapolis, Jamie Templeton (Allison) of Redwood City, CA, Kate Templeton (Alex Tate) of Abington, England, Natalie Dakin (Mark) of Dayboro, Australia, Alec Templeton (Nicole Velez) of Providence, RI and Ashley Templeton of Washington, DC. Great-grandchildren include Mary Courtney and Maggie Templeton, William Tate and Lavinia Templeton. Burial at Arlington Cemetery and a celebration of life will be held at later dates. Address any communication to Richard Templeton, 1203 West St. Suite C, Annapolis, MD 21401. "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground." - African Proverb

Published in The Capital on Nov. 24, 2013
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