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Information sought about Negaunee WWII veteran

Members of the 1938-39 Negaunee Male Chorus pose for a group photo. Joseph Phillips, who helped found the chorus, is fourth from left in the second row. First row from left are Ernest Pallola, Roy Davey, Ruben Helgren, Sidney Northey, William Langsford, Jafet Rytkonen, Bruno Lehto, William Nording, Cahrles Leckron, John Hauserman, Emory Sedlock, Harvey Waters, Arther Pascoe and Jacob Salo. Second row, Charles Phare, Donald Herrington, Wilfred Lenten, Joe Phillips, William Oatman, Arne Huhtala, John Hauserman Jr., Roy Roberts, Eck Lundin, Jalmer Lethonen, Clifford Warner, Henry Augustson, Edward Hoagland. Third row, James McAuliffe, Louis Liberate, Paul Clymer, Martin Anderson, Walter Johnson, William Belstrom, Thomas Sharland, Charles Kronquist, Don Belstrom, Joseph Thomas, August Raitikinen and William Sara.

By VICKIE FEE

Journal Staff Writer

The Negaunee City Band is asking the community for help locating photos and information about a former bandmate: Joseph Henry Thomas.

Thomas graduated from Negaunee High School in 1937, and he had played the sousaphone in the school band and the city band. He served in World War II and, sadly, never made it home.

A French man whose first name is Greg recently reached out to the Negaunee City Band asking for whatever information and photos they could gather of Joseph Henry Thomas.

Thomas was killed in action on Aug. 23, 1944, while fighting to liberate Greg’s hometown, 37 miles south of Paris. The French town is planning an event to honor Thomas and other soldiers who liberated their town.

Members of the Negaunee City Band are eager to help Greg with his quest. To date, they have not been able to locate a high school yearbook for the class of 1937. “Joe” Thomas played in the city band for several years.

Thomas was a member of the Mitchell Methodist Church, where he had taught a boys’ Sunday School class. Before enlisting in the Army in 1942, he was employed by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company.

Anyone who may have gone to school with, attended church with, served with or worked with Thomas is asked to share any information, and especially photos, they may have of him with band members.

Besides his parents, Thomas left behind four siblings, Mrs. William (Pearl) Bailey of Negaunee, Mrs. Harry (Mildred) Worth, and Florence of Detroit, and a brother, Albert, in Alma.

If you are related to Thomas or in touch with any of his family, please share information with a band member.

“We found a photograph of Henry Thomas in the eighth-grade band. But you can’t really see him behind his sousaphone,” Kathy Houghton said.

The Negaunee City Band performs at 7:30 p.m. each Wednesday night during the summer at the bandshell on Pioneer Avenue in Negaunee.

To contact Houghton at 906-362-5701, or email the band at negauneecityband@yahoo.com.

Vickie Fee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 542. Her email address is vfee@miningjournal.net

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