Friday, September 28, 2012

... starts with the Thomas Family: Carl Vernon Thomas

Of all the people I have come across in this Thomas Family binder, Carl Vernon Thomas is the most intriguing to me. I would love to have known him, or had 5 minutes to speak with the man he was, especially in the 1940s. 

Carl Vernon Thomas was the youngest child of Joseph Andrew Thomas and Mary Ellen Callison. Carl's birth certificate (which Letha has in the binder) lists his birth date as 10 Oct 1913 in Springdale, West Virginia, the back side of the certificate states that "The original of this certificate was not filed until Jan. 3, 1941." His birth record is not currently available through the WVCulture website, as Fayette County births are only available for the years 1852, 1861-1911 (as of this writing 28 Sep 2012). 
James Elzie Thomas (kneeling with dog) and
Carl Vernon Thomas (boy with cap)

Carl had an unfortunate accident as a child that left him with a handicap, his right arm was left a stump (at what I believe was) just above the elbow. I've heard that it was possibly from a fall out of a tree, but I'm not entirely certain. Despite the disability, Carl went to school at the West Virginia Business College (does anyone know where this college is/was?). 

Carl Vernon Thomas, back row on the far left.
Due to his handicap, Carl was unable to participate in World War II, but he aided the United States military as a civilian. In Letha's binder are 3 letters that speak volumes to Carl's hard work, loyalty, and character. The first is dated 1 October 1945, written by none other than the Major General of the Office of the Air Surgeon, David N. W. Grant (wikipedia entry with photo).

The second, dated 27 July 1947, written by Lt. Colonel William H. Perkins:

The last, 14 November 1947, written by Major General Malcom C. Grow (who would become the first Surgeon General of the United States in 1949, wikipedia entry).

These letters are, to me, priceless. They tell the story of Carl in ways that I may never have heard otherwise. The story ends sadly with the loss of his position (due to it being given to a government employee with "veteran's preference"), but the absolutely glowing recommendations and the image I am  left with of Carl are truly awesome. I wonder how Carl felt... he had served the office, according to the letters, since at least 1943. After he left the Office of the Air Surgeon, Carl worked for a catering service. I am so very pleased to have these letters available to me, and to be able to share them.  

Carl lived with Letha (his niece) and her husband Jim Osborne, so it is no wonder that she saved these important documents for us to know Carl. He passed away on 29 Nov 1986 in Indialantic, Brevard, Florida. Further evidence of the character and life of Carl Vernon Thomas is in the eulogy that Letha saved (written by Rev. James Allen). 

Obituaries of Carl Vernon Thomas (1913-1986)

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