John W. Thomas, Jr. passed away on July 12, 2021, at the age of 91 after complications from a fall. He and his wife of almost 59 years, Anne N. Thomas, were residents of New Vernon, Harding Township for 52 years before moving to Fellowship Village Senior Living in Basking Ridge in 2017. Following their marriage on September 8, 1962, they had lived on East End Avenue in Manhattan.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, John grew up in Summit and graduated from The Pingry School, class of 1948, then situated in Elizabeth, and Hamilton College, class of 1952, with an A.B. in Political Science and Finance. John was also a dedicated Navy man, joining the Naval Reserve in his sophomore year in college under an indefinite term commitment as the US was then in the thick of the Korean war. Following graduation from Hamilton, he went directly to OCS in Newport, RI and then to Charleston, where he was instructed in mine warfare and legal matters as a defense counsel. Two years of active duty involved clearing mines in coastal waters of both North and South Korea; subsequent assignments sent him to Europe and the Middle East. Released to inactive duty, he remained in the Reserves for 19 years, during which he had three commands: two ships and inshore undersea warfare.
His business career was devoted to Merrill Lynch, starting in the broker training program and advancing to Management. After time as Assistant Manager of the Park Avenue office, he was selected to head the Brooklyn and Staten Island offices for eight years. He concluded his time with Merrill in the Home Office’s Equity Marketing Division, frequently traveling the country to train and support brokers’ public presentations.
Out of the office, John was equally productive. For a number of seasons, he coached Little League baseball in Harding. A longtime member of the First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon (FPCNV), he served as an Elder for several terms and for the Presbytery of Newton for 20 years overseeing the maintenance of 45 manses. Involved with the Church’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, he also administered its historic cemetery. John’s most ambitious project involved a role in the design, construction, and fundraising for a freestanding library in Harding that has become a popular community center. He also served on the Library’s Board of Trustees. For 12 years he was an EMT with the New Vernon Volunteer First Aid Squad and always worked diligently for the annual September fundraising Auction.
In addition to his wife, he leaves two sons: Stuart (Jane) of Naples, FL and Philip (Gina) of Hong Kong and New Vernon. He was proud of his three grandchildren: Katherine, Emma, and Willem.