Harry Estell Thomas, 87, of Terre Haute, passed away on Saturday, July 9, 2011, at Davis Gardens Health Center.
Harry was born on Feb. 28, 1924, in Virden, Ill., to Henry and Vera (Gates) Thomas.
Harry attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill. After college he joined the Navy and became a pilot/navigator for Navy supply planes. He reached the rank of Lt. Commander.
While serving in the Navy he met Mildred Jean Thomas at a USO in Terre Haute. They were married on June 9, 1945 in Clinton, Okla.
Upon separation from the Navy they moved to Terre Haute where he started working for International Harvester. Later, he worked for 17 years as a Railway Postal Clerk stationed in Terre Haute. After retiring from the Postal Service, he worked for Heine Construction Co.
Later in life, Harry and Jean operated Thomas Christmas Tree Farm for more than 20 years. He and Jean were members of the United Methodist Temple.
He considered himself a carpenter, having built three houses, two camping trailers and moved and remodeled two other houses. He provided handyman services to friends and family.
His real love was restoring antique cars -- he had more than 20 of them. Ford Retractables were his favorite. There was always a car project at the Thomas house -- sometimes more than one! He and Jean enjoyed their involvement with the Hoosier Skyliner Club and the Historical Auto Club. They also attended a number of national Retractable organization activities.
Harry was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Jean, who died March 12 of this year; his parents; a sister, Doris Reed and brothers Dale Thomas and Henry Thomas Jr.
He is survived by a son, Darrel Thomas and his wife Diana, Greencastle; daughters, Cindy Martin and her husband Bernie, Statesboro, Ga.; Elaine Jacone, Plainfield; six grandchildren, Lisa Chadd and her husband, Mike, Greencastle, Kara Thomas, Greencastle; John Martin, Houston, Texas, Sarah Martin, Statesboro, Ga.; Andrew Jacone and his wife Rachel of Camby, Patrick Jacone, Indianapolis; three great-grandchildren, Kayla and Rachel Chadd, Greencastle, and Ryan Jacone, Camby; brother Paul Thomas, Chatham, Ill. and several nieces and nephews.
Services will be held 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, at DeBaun Memorial Chapel in Terre Haute, with the funeral taking place at 4 p.m. Burial will be in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Memorial donations can be made to the Westminster Village Memorial Fund, 1120 E. Davis Drive, or to the United Methodist Temple Building Fund, 5301 S. U.S. Hwy. 41.