Millville councilman, volunteer firefighter passes away

Millville Town Councilman Richard Thomas, 81, passed away last week. Thomas, who died on April 13 at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md., had been actively involved in town activities and functions, from serving on council and as its treasurer, to being a lifetime member of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company.

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MVFC Public Information Officer Bob Powell said Thomas got his start in firefighting in 1945 as a junior firefighter in College Park, Md. Then, in the early 1950s, he became a paid firefighter for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase (Md.) Fire Company.

Powell said that Thomas had served on the Ellicott City (Md.) Fire Department Board of Directors for more than 30 years, and owned numerous businesses related to fire-services, including Columbia Fire Services and A&D Fire LLC.

Thomas and his wife, Julia Augusta “Gus” Thomas, moved to Millville in 1986, where he became a part of the MVFC rescue squad and went onto serve as a rescue captain and ambulance attendant during his 28-year lifetime membership.

“Dick was a valued member of the fire company. He could sometimes bring a different perspective, because he had been in a larger area,” said Powell. “He was a faithful attendee to our fire company meetings and always willing to help wherever he could, whenever he could.

“We will certainly miss him,” Powell added.

Thomas also served the Town of Millville, joining the town council in 2005.

“He was an integral part of our financials,” said Town Manager Debbie Botchie. “He was the treasurer of the town council, so he worked closely with Betsy and me.”

Botchie said that Thomas was a frequent visitor to town hall, always visiting the staff with his dog Tinker Belle.

“We saw him pretty much, in his well days, on a daily basis. He was in almost every day. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

As for Thomas’ now-vacant seat on the council, Botchie said a public notice will be posted, offering individuals the opportunity to take over his term, which ends March 2013.

Residents may send a letter of interest to town hall, no later than May 4, which will then be reviewed by council. Those interested will then be interviewed in a public meeting by the council, which will appoint someone to serve the remainder of the term.

Thomas was survived by his wife of 60 years; two sons, Richard C. Thomas and his wife Lisa, and William J. Thomas and his wife, Diane; a daughter, Louise A. Keller and her husband, Richard; five grandchildren and one great-grandson; and his faithful dog Tinker Belle.

A funeral service will be held at noon on Friday, April 20, at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church, 81 Central Avenue in Ocean View, where friends and family may call after 10 a.m. Interment will be in the adjoining church cemetery.