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William Fred Thomason

June 13th, 1923 - July 1st, 2024

William Fred (Bill) Thomason, 101, passed away at his home in Charlotte, NC on July 1, 2024. 

He was born in Charlotte in 1923 to John S. Thomason and Clara B. Thomason. He lived his whole life in Charlotte, except for the times of his service to our country during WW2 (Navy) and the Korean War (Air Force). 


He grew up during the Depression which taught him many lessons that he carried with him throughout his life. In his words, “ Always help friends, family and people less fortunate because you can always find someone having a tougher time than you are. Never waste anything, time, money, food, NOTHING. Be self reliant and save a little on a regular basis. All honest work is good, so work to the very best of your ability at whatever job you have.”  


He graduated from Berryhill High School in 1939. After graduation he went to work for a wholesale drug company earning $12.00 a week.  


In 1942, following Pearl Harbor, he joined the Navy hoping to serve on a battleship. He was sent to boot camp in Jacksonville, Florida which he discovered was for the Navy Air Force. Prior to this time he had only been up in one airplane. Finishing boot camp, trade school, gunnery school and operational training, he became a dedicated Navy airman. He was assigned to a PBY, an amphibious plane. His squadron served in the Pacific Theater/ Philippines. According to him, the most memorable thing about his service was “that they survived.”  

He would reconnect with these fellow servicemen later in life when he became an active member of PBY/CIA Association. Serving as correspondent, he helped locate and bring together other fellow servicemen from around the country to enjoy yearly reunions. Many friendships were reestablished and memories enjoyed because of his dedicated diligence in corresponding and connecting with these old friends and their families. The group also worked together to restore a PBY Cutaway that was then donated to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Florida so others could learn more about this flying boat.


After the war, he returned to Charlotte and worked for the Southern Railroad as an express manager. 

On New Year’s Eve 1948, he met his beloved sweetheart Betty on a blind date. They were married the following October. They planned to start their life together in Charlotte, but the Air Force activated his reserve unit during the Korean War. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky to serve and Betty faithfully went with him because as her grandmother said, “ You married him and your home is where he is.” They were married for almost 75 years. 


They returned to Charlotte after he was discharged. Their first child, Mike, was born 6 days after his discharge. They started life together in a small house off Little Rock Road where Interstate 85 runs now. They became active in the community which led them to join Mulberry Presbyterian Church. He was an active member teaching adult Sunday School for over 50 years, serving as a deacon and a member of the Child Development Board.  He was always willing to volunteer to do any job that needed to be done around the church. 


He was active in Boy Scout Troop 6 at Mulberry serving as Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, merit badge counselor and on the scout council. Many happy memories were made on trips to Camp Steer, Edgemont, Camp Thomason and other places. 


His working career was spent working in manufacturing with several companies: Wil-Mat Corporation, W. F. Thomason Associates and Sloan Engineering. 


In 1955, they built their forever home in the Westerwood community and welcomed their second child, Susan. Bill loved to grow flowers and to garden in his yard. According to him, nothing tastes as good as “home grown.” He liked sharing his crops with others and teaching his grandchildren how to grow vegetables.  


In later life, he challenged himself to learn to use a computer and used this technology in different ways. He corresponded with family, friends and veterans from WW2. He delighted in using “string bean people” clip art to design cards for the Sunday School class to send to shut ins each month. These cards brought smiles to him and to the people receiving the cards. He enjoyed reading, working word puzzles, listening to music and savoring poetry. He loved to learn and spent time studying history, archeology and the Bible. He also developed a talent for refinishing antique furniture bringing new life to old wood.


He got the most joy from time spent with his family which eventually included 3 grandchildren and a great granddaughter. They were loved beyond measure and were the light of his life. He read to them, took them fishing, collected rocks, taught them to make things in his workshop, attended anything they were involved in, played games with them, carved their pumpkins, gardened with them and simply loved time with them. Paw Paw was perhaps his most cherished title in life.


In an interview about 20 years ago, Bill summed up what his life was like after the war. He said, “Wonderful!!! I had been part of accomplishing possibly the greatest mission of all time and I was proud of my part, but anxious to pick up life where I left it when I went into service. This I did with no real problem. My life was one where I worked, enjoyed every day, dated, fell in love, married, had children (a son and daughter) and discovered what a wonderful blessing a family can be and how love fulfills a life. Then, as I approached the “Golden Years” I was blessed with three wonderful grandchildren who defined another level of love.  (Little did he know that a great granddaughter’s arrival near the end of his life would add another level of indescribable love and joy.) My life was and is a glorious gift from God.”


The  family wishes to thank our many caregivers and VIA team who offered daily care and support for him and the family as he completed his earthly mission. 


His watch stands relieved. We have the watch. May we continue to live lives of honesty, love, devotion, courage, faith, commitment, perseverance and honor, with humor, as he did. 


Bill is survived by his beloved wife of almost 75 years, Betty C. Thomason; two children, Dr. Michael H. Thomason (Liz) and Susan Thomason DuRant; grandchildren, Lauren Thomason, John Thomason, Leigh Hale (Seb) and great granddaughter Harper Hale; along with several nieces and a nephew. 


He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Clara Thomason and his brother, Steve Thomason (Pete).


A celebration of life service for Bill will be held at Mulberry Presbyterian Church 5600 Tuckaseegee Road Charlotte, NC 28214 on Sunday, July 21,2024 at 1:00 PM. Reverend Rodger Sellers will be officiating. 


In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Mulberry Presbyterian Church or VIA Health Partners PO Box 470408, Charlotte, NC, 28247. 

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”   Dr. Seuss

You were the world to us and we will miss you, but we carry with us all of the things you taught us and the memories of time spent with you. 

We love you Bill, Dad, PawPaw.



















We Entrusted William Thomason's Care To

Hankins & Whittington Funeral Home

Hankins & Whittington Funeral Home

At Hankins & Whittington Funeral Service, nestled in the historic heart of Dilworth, we have provided families in the Charlotte area with customizable memorial services for many years. Our services are crafted to honor your loved ones in ways that are both deeply meaningful and healing. Our rich history began in 1946 when Irvin W. Hankins and James B. Whittington took the reins of the Crouch Funeral Home. The growth of our service and the community's support led to our move in March 1963 to the current location—once St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, built in 1930. Our chapel, a cherished historic landmark within the storied Dilworth neighborhood, is renowned for being the only funeral home in Charlotte graced with its own chapel, echoing with decades of history and serenity.

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Michael Thomason

Our Dad completed his 101 year circle of life peacefully @ 10:45 AM on a sunny Monday morning, July 1st, 2024, with Susan by his side. He often said his greatest treasure and legacy was his family, and shared with us the many joys and occasional sorrows of life as husband, father, “#1 PawPaw,” and great grand “PawPaw” for Harper during the first year of her life, before his came to a close. Dad loved reading stories and poems, so these seem a fitting tribute to his memory that we will carry forward to the next generation... PawPaw especially treasured and often read from “The Best Loved Poems of the American People” to us and his grandchildren - Lauren, John and Leigh. This was one of his favorites, and the last poem he heard as Leigh read to him the day before he silently stole away... The Day is Done BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW The day is done, and the darkness Falls from the wings of Night, As a feather is wafted downward From an eagle in his flight. I see the lights of the village Gleam through the rain and the mist, And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me That my soul cannot resist: A feeling of sadness and longing, That is not akin to pain, And resembles sorrow only As the mist resembles the rain. Come, read to me some poem, Some simple and heartfelt lay, That shall soothe this restless feeling, And banish the thoughts of day. Not from the grand old masters, Not from the bards sublime, Whose distant footsteps echo Through the corridors of Time. For, like strains of martial music, Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor; And to-night I long for rest. Read from some humbler poet, Whose songs gushed from his heart, As showers from the clouds of summer, Or tears from the eyelids start; Who, through long days of labor, And nights devoid of ease, Still heard in his soul the music Of wonderful melodies. Such songs have power to quiet The restless pulse of care, And come like the benediction That follows after prayer. Then read from the treasured volume The poem of thy choice, And lend to the rhyme of the poet The beauty of thy voice. And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares, that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And as silently steal away... And Susan discovered a clipping with this poem that Dad carried with him during his years of service in WW II in the Philippines as an airman aboard a PBY Catalina “Black Cat” flying patrol boat.. High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air… Up, up the long, delirious burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or ever eagle flew – And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Published July 13th, 2024

Michael Thomason

Dad, #1 PawPaw Farewell

Published July 13th, 2024

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