Roy E. Thomas, 95, passed away Saturday, March 1, 2014.
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Roy E. Thomas was born March 3, 1918, in Mason City, Ill. He went to Winter Haven, Fla., from Miami in 1951.
Growing up on the Thomas Farm in Buffalo as one of 10 children, Roy became skilled in horseback riding, mule racing, farming and hunting. Roy graduated from Western Kentucky University with a teaching degree in the mid-1930s. After graduation, he got his first job, as a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in Rineyville. He was a beloved teacher by all of his students, organizing a basketball team and a cheerleading squad.
During World War II, Roy served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Roy was one of the World War II heroes who flew The Hump, between India, China and Burma. Flying the military transport plane, the Curtiss C-46 Commando, Roy flew on many dangerous assignments. With his expert skills and cool demeanor, he always completed his missions. He was awarded the Air Medal for distinguished service. After his period of active duty, Roy became a flight instructor at Bartow Air Base for the U.S. Air Force in Bartow, Fla. In 1963 when the base closed, Roy started a new career as a real estate broker, selling citrus groves and acreage until his retirement.
Roy was an avid golfer and was very proud of the fact that he once shot a "69." In his first year of playing golf, Roy qualified for a professional golf tournament. He was a member of Lake Region Yacht & Country Club for many years, where he and his wife, Dottie, enjoyed their friends and the beautiful golf course at Lake Region. He also was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Miami and St. Matthew Catholic Church in Winter Haven.
Roy was a devoted husband to his wife, Dottie, a loving father to his children, a sweet, fun-loving grandpa to his grandchildren, and a beloved family member to his large family in Kentucky. Roy's qualities were always those of kindness, sweetness, patience and humor. He always was ready to help someone, listen to them or entertain them with a funny story. He will be missed by people who knew him for many years and those who only recently came into his life.
Roy is survived by his wife, Dorothy B. Thomas of Winter Haven; a son, Roy E. Thomas Jr. of Melbourne, Fla.; two daughters, Jan T. Fifer of Alva, Fla., and Jill T. Norman of Tallahassee, Fla.; a brother, Buddy Thomas of Buffalo; two sisters, Anna Margaret Fischer of Louisville and Mary Buth of Fort Worth, Texas; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial Mass is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 8, at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Winter Haven.
Memorial contributions may be made to Meals on Wheels.
Steele's Family Funeral Services in Winter Haven is in charge of arrangements.
Steele's Family Funeral Services
207 Burns Lane Winter Haven, FL 33884-1145
Published in The News-Enterprise on Mar. 6, 2014