LT. COL. ANDREW HALE THOMAS, JR. (USAF, Ret.) passed away April 28, 2013, surrounded by family members after a hard fought 4.5 year battle with bladder cancer. He was born in Asheville, NC, on July 16, 1928. |
Known as Little Hale while growing up during the depression in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, he had a large family with loving parents. He helped his family by working in the family general store in Church Hill, TN. While he attended college at East Tennessee St. University, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve with his brother Joe. Then Hale left the Navy and joined the USAF where he received his wings at Bryan AFB, TX in 1952. With a military career spanning from 1948 to 1975 the family lived in many locations including Moultrie GA, Tyndall AFB, Panama City, FL, Great Falls MT, Fargo ND, Minneapolis MN, Sioux City IA, Glasgow, MT, Camarillo, CA, Incirlik AB, Turkey, Shaw AFB, Sumter SC, Langley AFB, Hampton VA and Eglin AFB, Ft. Walton Bch FL.
As a Command Pilot, Andy served in the Korean War and Vietnam with over 100 missions over North Vietnam. He was awarded many medals for valor and commendation during his career including Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Numerous Air Medals, Unit citations and Commendation medals over his career. Unfortunately, he never talked about what he actually did to receive them. He was very humble about his accomplishments.
During his retirement in Ft. Walton Beach he sold restaurant equipment for Alford's and was a part time administrator at First United Methodist Church of FWB. He and Mary Lou loved their church and made sure the children grew up in a Christian home. In 2006, they decided to move to Cypress, TX. due to the wonderful health care facilities in the area.
He had many nicknames during his lifetime including; Hale Jr, Andy, Tommy, Tom Tom, Handsome, Uncle Tale, Dad and Daddy. During his final years all the grandchildren called him Grandpa. That named morphed into "GP". He told everyone he met that they should call him GP and the name stuck with him until the end of his life.
Unfortunately there is not enough space to talk about Dad and do justice to the impact he had on many lives. He never met anyone who didn't like him immediately. His nature was to have fun, laugh a lot and love his family. He provided wise council to all and he will be greatly missed.
He was preceded in death by his parents, A. Hale Thomas, Sr. and Myrtle Virginia Leeper Thomas of Church Hill, TN, brothers, James Campbell of New Orleans and Morton Campbell of Charlotte NC, sisters, Frances Thomas Sayre of Asheville NC, Nancy DeYoung McCoy of Kingsport TN and his grandson and namesake Andrew H (Drew) Thomas, IV of Spring, TX.
Survivors include his wife of almost 61 years, Mary Lou Miller Thomas, Cypress, TX, Andrew Hale Thomas III and wife Nancy Thomas of Cypress, daughters Tamara "Tami" Susan Thomas Nunley and husband Jeffery "Jeff" Nunley of Eagle River AK and Teresa "Teri" Diane Thomas Cruce and husband Stephen A. "Skip" Cruce III of Panama City, FL. Brothers include John E. Thomas of Chapel Hill, NC, Joseph S. Thomas of Auburndale, FL and sisters Virginia Thomas Neelands of Atascadero, CA and Carolyne Thomas Culbertson of Kingsport, TN. He has numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Friends may visit with his family from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at Klein Funeral Home, Champions. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Monday, May 6, at John Wesley United Methodist Church, 5830 Bermuda Dunes Drive, Houston 77069. Interment with military honors will follow at Houston National Cemetery, Houston.
Please sign the guestbook at http://AndrewHThomasJr.virtual-memorials.com.
Published in Houston Chronicle on May 5, 2013