William Thomas
William Thomas
William Thomas

Obituary of William Thomas

THOMAS, William (Bill) Richard, 85, of Tampa, passed away peacefully August 8, 2017.

     Bill lived an engaged and inventive life, as a decorated Korean War veteran, dedicated husband, father and grandfather, chemical engineer, community servant, business leader, and artist.

     Bill was born on October 31, 1931 in McKeesport, PA to Calvin and Ellen Thomas. In 1951, during the Korean War, Bill enlisted in the US Army and was assigned to the Signal Corps. He served 3 years in South Korea. Upon honorable discharge from the Army, he was offered a job at Westinghouse Research in McKeesport, PA, as a lab technician, where he met Marilyn Gibson. They were married for 30 years and raised their children in West Virginia, New York, and Ohio, then settled in Tampa Bay, Florida.

     While in Pennsylvania, Bill attended Carnegie Institute of Technology, with a major in chemical engineering, and a minor in electrical engineering. After graduating in 1960, he pursued a job opportunity in LeRoy, New York working at Lapp Insulators. While in Le Roy Bill was involved in many community activities. These included President of the Rotary Club, Chairman of the Community Chest, including organizing the first parade, member of the Water Commission and Advisory Committee for Boy Scouts. He ran for Town Council, was a member of the vestry for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and was the 1966 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award as Le Roy’s “Outstanding Young Man”. 

     In 1969 Bill took a job with Panacon/Briggs in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was made head of their research department. In 1973 he moved the family to Seminole, Florida and was soon promoted to Vice President of Manufacturing. In 1976 Bill decided to launch his own manufacturing company, and founded DavitMaster Corporation, a boat lift company. And in 1986 he founded Nautical Structures, a yachting tender-liftand accessories company. Both companies grew to become leaders in their fields.

     In his spare time Bill loved traveling, stamp and coin collecting, and was a masterful, prolific painter in the mediums of oil and watercolor. He also loved writing about his life. His artwork, business experiences, and other writings can be found on his website: http://www.williamrthomas.net


     Bill is lovingly remembered by his children (and spouses/partners), Rick (Lisa), Mary (Dave), Karen (Al) and Cheryl (Miguel) and his grandchildren, Richard, Aidan, Tristan, Alyssa, Kaleen, Analiese, Julia and Miguel. He is also remembered by Nancy Graves, his second (former) spouse, and her children Julie, Fred, Danny and Marion. He was preceded in passing by his infant son, Robert Jeffrey, and Marilyn, his first wife.

     A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in LeRoy, NY, Reverend Colleen O’Connor will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.