Obituary of Dewey Thomas
Dewey Jasper Thomas passed away peacefully on September 5, 2021, at the age of 106. He was born on November 4, 1914, in Mabel, North Carolina to Alfred & Eliza Thomas, joining five siblings: Cora, Nora, Arthur, Lillian, and Clay. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, near the Tennessee line, his family’s home was the hub of Sunday afternoon hospitality for their Baptist community. Here he learned about family ties, about being a good neighbor – here he fought off polio with the dedication of a loving mother. At the age of 22, Dewey decided to “go West” where he lived and worked in the logging industry of Idaho and Washington and in the grain fields of Sherman County. Thomas was drafted in August, 1941, four months prior to Pearl Harbor, for what he thought was one year of duty. He served over four years with 39 months in a combat zone with the 808th Engineers Aviation Battalion, Fifth Air Corps in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. He attained the rank of Sergeant and earned five bronze stars. He was discharged from the service in October 1945, returned to Wasco, Oregon, and married Catherine Fridley November 10, 1945. While raising a family, farming and running a herd of Angus cattle, Dewey served as Commander of the American Legion Post and was on the farm cooperative board. He became a church board member, 4-H leader and fair board member. At the age of 61, Dewey served as a Sherman County Commissioner and then as county judge for nearly a decade. After retiring from farming, Dewey and Catherine decided to see some of the world for themselves traveling to China, Russia, Europe, and the South Pacific and enjoyed becoming grandparents of five between 1976 and 1981. Catherine passed away in December 1999 and Dewey began a new chapter in his life, writing of his military years, volunteering at the Veterans Home and the Sherman County Historical Museum, and serving on the budget committee of NORCOR for several years. In 2011 he flew to Washington, D.C. with an Honor Flight contingent to visit the World War II Memorial. Following recovery from a broken hip, Dewey moved into The Springs at Mill Creek in February of 2019. Representative Greg Walden met with him on Armed Forces Day, May 18, 2019, when an interview with Thomas was recorded for the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center. The video along with a memoir written by Thomas with his daughter, the late Reine Thomas, were submitted to become a part of the Library of Congress collection. Dewey was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Arthur & Clay Thomas; sisters Cora Moretz, Nora Warren and Lillian Younce; wife Catherine Thomas; and daughter Reine M. Thomas. He is survived by his son Kent Thomas (Melva), Wasco, OR; Grandchildren: Jamie King (Dave) Idaho Falls, ID; Casey Hayes (Kristi) San Diego, CA; Jesse Thomas (Sara), Lincoln, NE; Abby Kraayeveld (Jefferey) Ridgefield, WA; Joshua Thomas (Britney) Queen Creek, AZ; Great Grandchildren: Carson Thomas, Lincoln, NE; Nolan & Piper Hayes, San Diego, CA; Ava & Haddie Kraayeveld, Ridgefield, WA; Brady & Brooks Thomas, Queen Creek, AZ; Jack & Emma King, Idaho Falls, ID. Graveside services will be held at the Sunrise Cemetery in Wasco, OR, September 18 at 1:00 p.m. Spencer, Libby & Powell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorial donations may be made to the Sherman County Historical Society, PO Box 173, Moro, OR 97039 or Wasco United Methodist Church, PO Box 43, Wasco, OR 97065. Announcement is courtesy of Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory, Boone NC.