Billie Henry Thomas

August 1, 1936 ~ December 1, 2020 (age 84)


Billie Henry Thomas
August 1, 1936 – December 1, 2020
Billie Henry Thomas, 84, passed from this world to eternal life in the presence of
his Lord and Savior on December 1, 2020 after a long illness. He was born in
Fairfax, Georgia on the first day of August in 1936. Fitting of a child born at the
height of summer, he blessed all around him with his warm, sunny personality that
was manifest throughout his life. He was a man known for his warmth,
compassion, affection, tenderness, and generosity, particularly in his willingness to
offer a helping hand to whomever he met. At the age of 19, he enlisted in the
United States Coast Guard where he served honorably for 22 years, until medically
retired in 1975 as a Machinery Technician Chief. During his career he served in
both the 7 th and 12 th Coast Guard Districts at bases in Charleston SC, Mayport FL,
Fort Bragg, CA and San Francisco CA. He also served two tours of isolated duty in
support of Long Range Aid to Navigation (LORAN) operations at Oshima, Japan
and Bataan Island, Republic of the Philippines. He served most of his career at sea
performing Maritime Aid to Navigation, Maritime Law Enforcement, and Marine
Environmental Protection duties. Yet the most personally rewarding for him were
the numerous Search and Rescue missions he was an essential part of aboard the
Cutters Pawpaw, Sweetgum, Cape Morgan, Point Roberts, Resolute, Point Ledge,
and Point Heyer. Along with his crewmates, he was instrumental in saving souls at
peril on the tempest-tossed waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Caribbean
Sea, and the Gulfs of Alaska and Mexico. He lived the Coast Guard’s motto of
“Always Ready”—as indeed he was always ready to selflessly give of himself for
the benefit of others. He is preceded in death by his beloved father and mother,
Henry Walter Thomas and Leona Bell Thomas (Duncan), brother L. T. “Luther”
Thomas, sister Velma Thomas Dukes, and son Billy Wayne Thomas. He is
survived by his beloved wife of 65 years Shirley Nelms Thomas, brother Carol
Thomas, son David Thomas (Karen), granddaughter Alanna Thomas Shaw (Todd),
two grandsons Jared Christopher Shaw and Jacob Thomas Shaw, all of
Jacksonville, Florida, and his daughter, Dianne Thomas (Chris Ingram) of Fishers
Island, New York. He is deeply loved and will be profoundly missed by his
children, grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and friends, many whom
counted him as their “Poppa.” The immediate family will honor his life on Sunday
December 6, 2020, at Cedar Bay Funeral Home, 405 New Berlin Road,
Jacksonville. He will be interred during a private ceremony at the Jacksonville

National Cemetery the following day with Pastor Micah Strickland officiating.

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