David Wynne "Dave" Thomas

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OKEECHOBEE - David Wynne Thomas, known always as "Dave Thomas", age 86, went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Sunday morning, Nov. 3, 2013. He was born on Nov. 22, 1926, to Welsh immigrants, Hugh Samuel and Maude Morgan Thomas, both deceased, in Scranton, Pa. He was their second son and is yet survived by his older brother, Hugh Samuel, Jr., (88); and his two younger brothers, Roger Griffith (84) and Ivor Daniel (68). His sister Virginia Sally predeceased him. Dave chose to forgo a formal elementary education not finishing high school and began his adventurous life as a horse wrangler for Sid Goodwin's Riding Stables in Justice near Chinchilla and Clarks Summit, Pa. Later, he would drive trucks for a construction company that was building the airfield at Ft. Bragg. At the age of 16, Dave went "railroading" and became the youngest Fireman shoveling coal on the steam locomotives of the Illinois Central Railroad on the Yazoo, Mississippi-Memphis line. Dave enlisted in the Merchant Marine, U.S. Coast Guard, at Hogg Island, Philadelphia shortly upon reaching 18 yrs. of age and was Honorably Discharged upon the 'end of hostilities' in 1946. During WW II, Dave served as an Oiler & Fireman upon several different Liberty Ships, transiting the Panama Canal several times while 'traveling the World' including Cuba, Columbia, Equator, Peru, Chili, the Philippines and Japan. At the end of the War, he was serving on his last ship, the USS Robert R. Livingston which was in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Peace Treaty. Stuck in Japan for 8 months, Dave made the best of the situation when after finding a Japanese barge that had been previously sunk by the Japanese to prevent the American Forces from going up a local river, Dave used his ingenuity and skills of persuasion to persuade some newly found friends he had met that were with the 302nd Engineers, to refloat the barge. After doing so, Dave used that barge to transport himself and his fellow shipmates back and forth from their anchored ship to the shore and all around Tokyo Bay for those 8 months until he was 'mustered' out. Arriving in San Diego by troop ship, Dave flew for the first time to NYC on a long, circuitous route across the United States on a new airline being established by some returning GI's that were eager to identify available airports for their new airline along the way to the East Coast. Dave began his civilian life working as a mail boy for RCA and later as an assistant to the Butler of David Sarnoff, CEO of RCA. It was during this time that he met Catherine Rose Miller, now deceased. They were married for 24 years and had ten children. Dave then went to work for F.W. Woolworth's as a stock boy rising to Store Manager within a couple of years. After working for F.W. Woolworths until 1960, and with now eight children, Dave decided that country living was a better atmosphere than city living and bought a dairy farm on Welsh Hill, Pa., at the base of Elk Mountain. In 1973 Dave moved the family to Boca Raton, Fla and began yet a new chapter in his life. Drawing upon his background in retailing and agriculture, Dave began a landscape company that spanned SE Florida from Miami to Ft. Pierce, established retail garden centers that operated from Delray Beach to Jupiter, owned and operated 2 farm nurseries, a tree farm and owned and operated a golf course. At the height of his business career he employed over 185 employees. He did all of this without any formal high school education. In his later years, Dave Thomas retired to Okeechobee, Fla. where he lived and pursued his lifelong passion of golf. He will be remembered by his many friends at the Okeechobee Country Club, and the residents and staff at Grand Oaks Independent Living. Dave Thomas is survived by ten children, David, Jr. "Chip", Jupiter, Cathy Anita "Eve", Jupiter, Patricia Ann Swetter, Clifford, Pa., Paul Andrew, Jupiter, Stephen Arthur, Stuart, Jonathan Edwards, Jacksonville, Mark Adam, Stuart, Elizabeth Joy McCoy, Vermont, James Charles, Palm Beach Gardens, Jessica Ruth Didonato, Palm City; as well as 22 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. Those wishing to leave a message of condolence may sign the online register book at, www.OkeechobeeFuneralHome.com All arrangements are entrusted to the direction and care of the Buxton, Bass and Conway families of the Buxton & Bass Okeechobee Funeral Home, 400 North Parrott Avenue, Okeechobee Florida 34972.

Funeral Home
Buxton and Bass Okeechobee Funeral Home & Crematory - Okeechobee
400 North Parrott Avenue  Okeechobee, FL 34972
(863) 763-1994
Funeral Home Details
Published in NewsZapFL on Nov. 10, 2013
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