February 1, 2006
There was always something special about David Thomas. I mean, really unusual, beside the fact that he was a preacher's son, an A student, and one of the best bass horn players ever to march around the Perry square. He was good in all those things, and many others, too. I guess that is what made him "special."
David was born just a few days before I was, in the summer of 1924. That's probably one reason I always considered him "special," although he would have disputed that contention. His father was pastor of the local Presbyterian church for nearly 30 years and his mother, Eula, was a former missionary to India. He had a younger brother, Harcourt. The younger David thought of himself as normal. He was my best friend until the Army separated us at the start of the Army Specialized training Program (ASTP), during WWII, when he went to Rutgers University in New Jersey and I went to St. Bonaventure University in New York state. We were both 18 years old. David wound up in Europe during the Battle of the Bulge, in which he was killed by the Nazis. Fate took me to the Pacific Ocean area and a non-combative role on the Army Newspaper, Stars & Stripes. Mrs. Thomas gave me one of David's favorite books, "The Bounty Trilogy," shortly after his Army coffin arrived in Perry from France for reburial.
After graduating from Perry High School at the age of 16 in 1941, David enrolled in Park College, a Presbyterian-related school in Missouri, and became a bass vocal soloist with the college glee club. I thought that was amazing. He sang with the youth choir here but could never get the pitch just right. Even when he and I, at my suggestion, helped ourselves to some knives sold at my Dad's drug store, he was willing to do what others said. He was a good student, besides a good friend. I have many old snapshots of the two of us at the church manse, at Eighth and Elm, playing with our little red wagons or just messing around. I will always miss him.