Ralph Thomas Sr.
Ralph Wilson Thomas Sr., 94, died Monday, Sept. 12, at his home. He was born in Columbia, Tenn., on Aug. 14, 1917, to Samuel Odie Thomas and Lura Irene McDonald Thomas and was the youngest of five children.
He enlisted in the Army Air Force in November of 1941; he was a decorated WWII veteran serving in the China/Burma/India theater as an aircraft mechanic with the 80th Fighter Group (Burma Banshees) of the Tenth Air Force, and was honorably discharged after the war with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
He began his career in the insurance industry as an agent for Tennessee Valley Life. He was the Southeastern Regional Training Supervisor for New York Life Insurance Company for many years before settling in the Memphis area where he eventually started his own agency. He retired and in 1988 Ralph and his wife Sebelle moved to Pickwick, but he continued to serve his clients until his death.
He was a former vice-chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party; a member of the Pickwick United Methodist Church, and a charter member of the Pickwick Landing Rotary Club.
He was preceded in death by his wife Sebelle Knight Stegall Thomas, daughter-in-law Teresa Pentecost Thomas and four siblings, Revis A. Thomas, James Donald Thomas, Myrtle Irene Thomas Carlton, and Samuel Odie Thomas Jr.
He is survived by two sons, Ralph W. “Tommy” Thomas Jr. and wife Fran of Pickwick and Frank D. “Denny” Thomas Sr. and wife Patricia of Arlington, Tenn.; seven grandchildren, Christopher M. Thomas and wife Kristi of Bartlett, Tenn.; Scott D. Thomas of Memphis; Donna M. Thomas Sudderth and husband Joey of Laguna Nigel, Calif.; Melanie D. Thomas of Knoxville; Frank D. “Bud” Thomas Jr. of Henderson, Tenn.; Kathryn D. Thomas of Starkville, Miss.; and Kimberly E. Miller and husband Ryan of Arlington, Tenn.; and seven great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2 p.m., at Pickwick United Methodist Church with Rev. J. Keith Wright officiating. Memorials may be made to the Pickwick United Methodist Church in Pickwick, Tenn.