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George Thomas, 87, Hicksville resident, dies

A longtime Hicksville resident, George Thomas died of

A longtime Hicksville resident, George Thomas died of heart failure on March 20 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 87. Photo Credit: Handout

A seventh-generation Long Islander, George A. Thomas served during World War II, survived being a prisoner of war, and went on to own and operate a Babylon furniture store.

A longtime Hicksville resident, Thomas died of heart failure on March 20 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 87.

"My dad lived the American dream," said his son, Mark Thomas, of Hicksville.

Born in Brookville, Thomas grew up in a large family during the Great Depression. When he was 12, he got his first job -- caddying at the Bethpage Golf Club -- to help support his family.

At Hicksville High School, he played football, basketball and ran track, holding the pole vault record for 25 years, Mark Thomas said.

George Thomas graduated in 1944 and immediately joined the Army, serving in the 101st Airborne Division. He was soon dispatched to Western Europe, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

While serving in Bastogne, Belgium, Thomas and a dozen other soldiers were captured by German tank troops, his son said. They were mistreated by the enemy, forced into hard labor and required to sleep outside, with no change of clothes.

In early April 1945, Thomas was being held in a German POW camp when it was liberated by Gen. George S. Patton's army.

After the war, Thomas played semiprofessional football with some former Hicksville High teammates and was later recruited to Auburn University by famed scout Tex Schramm, Mark Thomas said.

"But he got homesick and returned to Hicksville after a couple of months," the son said.

Thomas married Frances Caruso in 1947. In 1949, Thomas and a partner, James McGeever -- who married Frances' sister, Rose -- started the Long Island Furniture Co. in Babylon. Thomas retired and closed the business in 2005.

He was a member of a Northport POW group and the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Hicksville Post 3211. He was also an usher at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Hicksville.

Survivors also include another son, George, of Oakdale; two daughters, Laureen Clark of Port Jefferson Station, and Patricia Budinich of Hicksville; two brothers, Charles, of Riverhead, and James, of Syosset; a sister, Marjorie Cummings of Huntington; eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass was held at St. Ignatius on Monday. Burial followed at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.

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