William F. “Bill” Thomas 94, ended his journey in this life on August 7, 2021.
He was born on July 14, 1927 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi the last of eight children born to Ethel (Karnes) and Jonnie Thomas.
While just a few months old, the Thomas Family moved to West City where “Bill” lived on West Webster Street the rest of his life. Mr. Thomas graduated from BTHS in 1945 and immediately went into the service during WWII. He was very active in the affairs of West City. He first served his Village as a trustee, beginning in 1955. He was mayor from 1985 to 1989. Following that, he again served as trustee several terms. He was later appointed zoning administrator by Mayor Ross Cockrum.
West City had no sewer system until the 1970’s, relying on septic tanks for each household’s waste. He was instrumental during the term of Mayor J. B. Kearney, to successfully persuade the residents to approve bonding for a new water and sewer system in 1976. West City had barely been able to survive until the sewers were installed. As a result, Rend Lake Plaza was established with Walmart becoming the “savior” of West City through sales tax collected and then remitted to the village.
West City is now a flourishing and prosperous village, due to the efforts of Mr. Thomas and others. He was proud to be alive when Walmart became a Supercenter along with other national chains coming to West City such as McDonald’s, Applebees, Rural King and many others.
Mr. Thomas also served four years on the Franklin County Board. He was chairman of the Health Committee when the county created the first landfill near Eakin Grove Church, and when the first county dog pound was created for the county.
Mr. Thomas was “saved” in a revival at the First Baptist Church of West City in 1937, at the age of ten years. He served as song leader for thirty years. Also served as church clerk, trustee, training director, and Sunday School teacher. When Paul Dann was pastor in the 1950’s television was just beginning to be readily available to everyone. Together, Rev. Dann and “BIll” as song leader, would take the church choir to Harrisburg, Channel 3 WSIL, to provide a service, monthly, on television.
While all these activities were going on, “Bill” married Anne Miglin in 1950, built a new house in 1952 at 709 West Webster, next to the old home where he was reared. In 1956 he established Thomas Printing and Stationery Company at 702 West Main Street where Plaza Tire now stands.
When Interstate 57 came through West City, it became necessary to move the printing business. Mr. Thomas then designed and had built a new building for the business at 301 South DuQuoin Street in Benton. The printing business is still being operated by Mike and Barbara Thomas after 65 years.
Also, during their years Anne and “Bill” had three sons born to them. Namely, Alan, Van and Michael. Bill is survived by Alan and wife Deborah, Benton, Van and wife Joyce of Chesterton, Indiana, and Michael and Barbara Thomas of Benton. Grandchildren are Beth, Aaron, Clayton, Eva, and Stuart Thomas and great grandchild Jake Lemeshko, in Beaumont, Texas.
Wife Anne Miglin Thomas died on February 10, 2003 after 52 years of marriage.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, August 13 at 1:00 P. M. with visitation starting at 11:00 A. M. until time of the service at the Morton and Johnston Funeral Home, 410 South Main Street, Benton, Illinois. Burial with Military Rites conducted by the Benton American Legion & VFW Posts and the Army Honor Guard will be in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery, beside his departed wife.
May you all have pleasant memories of William F. “Bill” Thomas.
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