Charles Thomas, 93

Locomotive engineer

February 13, 2007

Charles J. Thomas, a retired locomotive engineer and athlete, died of leukemia Wednesday at University of Maryland Medical Center. The longtime Dundalk resident was 93.

Mr. Thomas was born and raised in Highlandtown, the son of a railroader. He attended parochial schools until the eighth grade, when he left to help support his family.

"He worked on a huckster wagon selling vegetables and later drove a laundry truck. During Prohibition, he was a bootlegger and drove trucks with false bottoms where the liquor was hidden," said a son, Charles W. Thomas of York, Pa.

Mr. Thomas enlisted in the Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served in the Pacific as a gunner's mate aboard the destroyer USS Swearer. "He fought at Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal, and his ship survived several kamikaze attacks," his son said.

After the war, Mr. Thomas went to work for the Patapsco & Back River Railroad Co., a Bethlehem Steel Corp. subsidiary, where he was an engineer for more than 30 years. He retired in 1978.

Mr. Thomas was a longtime, award-winning duckpin bowler, and bowled for years at Dundalk's Pinland Lanes. When he was 65, he took up golf and enjoyed the sport until he was 85.

He was a communicant of Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church in Dundalk, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday.

Also surviving are his wife of 64 years, the former Catherine F. Snyder; another son, Keith M. Thomas of St. Louis; two sisters, Rita Kern of Dundalk and Edna Bitter of San Antonio; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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