Age: 82 Address: Bakersville, North Carolina Date of Death: Sunday, January 12, 2014 Arrangements: Henline-Hughes Funeral Home
Details: George Richmond Thomas, Jr. Born October 16, 1931, passed away on January 12, 2014 in Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, NC. He was the son of Alice Willis and George Richmond Thomas of the Lily Branch Community.
He is survived by his wife, Merinda Vinson Thomas of Bakersville, NC; a son, George Richmond Thomas III; a daughter, Lisa Dawn Thomas; a grandson, Jacob Thomas Moody and a granddaughter; McKayla Madison Moody, of San Diego, CA; a step – daughter, Julia Phillips, and two step – granddaughters, Brinkley and Lacey Phillips.
George was baptized and reared in Lily Branch Baptist Church, the church he loved and served in until he joined the Navy. He attended Lily Branch School, which, along with the first Lily Branch Church, burned on his fifth birthday. George then attended Ledger Elementary School and he graduated from Bowman High School in 1949. He attended Appalachian State University prior to joining the Navy, where he spent the next 24 years as a Navy pilot, flying several planes mostly in the Pacific. He also was a test pilot for the Navy in Lakehurst, NJ and Akron, OH. George was the last pilot of the Navy’s fleet of airships. After graduating from the Navy Post-graduate School in Monterey, CA, he served as head of Communications Dept. on Aircraft Carrier USS Bennington in the Pacific area. He served a tour of duty in Vietnam with the Southeast Asia Defense Communication Agency and a final tour at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, retiring from the Navy in 1970.
After retiring from the Navy, he went back to college and earned a degree in real estate and opened Yellow Bird Co. Real Estate in San Diego; that office is still active with son George III at the helm. Keeping his real estate license active in CA, he returned to the North Carolina mountains he loved and opened Yellow Bird Co. in 1980.
George was an active member of Bakersville Baptist Church, the Rotary Club in Spruce Pine, and the Yancey – Mitchell Board of Realtors.
A Memorial Service will be held Friday January 17, 2014 at 6:00PM in Bakersville Baptist Church with Pastor Billy Stewart officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. The family is being assisted by Henline – Hughes Funeral Home in Bakersville, NC. Remains will be interred in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery overlooking San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Bakersville Baptist Church, Lily Branch Church, or to a charity of Choice.