Marion Fleming Thomas Jr. (“Dick”), 92, born February 19, 1923 at Nashville, Tennessee, veteran of World War II and member of the Nashville Bar Association, died July 5, 2015 surrounded by loving family. He was a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Nashville. He was preceded in death by his parents, Marion Fleming Thomas and Grace Humphreys Thomas, and by his brother Allison Houston Thomas, all of Nashville. He is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Judith Brandon Thomas; son David Brandon Thomas (Janet) of Brentwood and daughter Evalyn Thomas Gander (Wolfgang) of Nashville; grandchildren David Brandon Thomas, Jr., MD of South Orange, NJ, Rebecca Sperry Gander, RN, BSN, of Birmingham, AL, Wolfgang Maximilian Gander of Nashville, Rev. Christina Dawn Starace of Carmel, IN and Adam Gabriel Starace of Brentwood.
A lifelong resident of Nashville, he graduated from Montgomery Bell Academy in 1941. Initially prevented from volunteering for World War II due to a hernia, he worked to save his own money for a corrective operation, then successfully volunteered for service in the Army Air Corps and was training as a fighter pilot when the war concluded, during which time he also received the Purple Heart.
After his discharge he returned to Vanderbilt where he earned his Bachelor of Laws and Doctor of Jurisprudence degrees, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. His career encompassed law practice, securities brokerage at Merrill Lynch and at his father’s firm W. N. Estes & Co., and commercial real estate brokerage with Dobson & Johnson. An avid chef, in 1974 he cofounded Sperry’s Restaurant with his brother and their wives, which they operated together until selling to nephew Al Thomas in 2000.
He was a talented and skilled craftsman, building many beautiful pieces of furniture in both wood and wrought iron, mastering the art of “checkering” gun stocks, and was a prolific artist whose works hang in many Nashville homes. He was also an enthusiast of radio-controlled model airplanes and could be found with his son on just about any pretty weekend at the RC flying field across from the Steeplechase.
He was a direct descendant of Revolutionary War General Daniel Smith of Rock Castle and a great-great grandson of James Houston Thomas, member of the United States House of Representatives and law partner of James K. Polk.
He was fortunate to have had a father who was a devoted outdoorsman and who accompanied him on hunting and fly fishing excursions from childhood until after his marriage. He loved the Warner Parks, traversing them by bicycle, horseback, motorcycle, convertible and, even at age 80, on foot. He was a member of Friends of Warner Parks.
His hero was Winston Churchill, and he was a man who loved England, traveling there annually with his wife for vacations and business from 1983 through 2001.
The family will receive visitors from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 9th at the First Presbyterian Church, 4815 Franklin Pike, Nashville, TN 37220. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to The Nature Conservancy or Alive Hospice.