Vane W. Thomas, 87, Minot, formerly of rural Granville, died Monday, September 24, 2007, in a Minot Healthcare Center after a courageous and lengthy battle with cancer.
Vane was born September 18, 1920 at Granville, North Dakota, the son of Garth and Pearl (Riley) Thomas. He was raised and educated in Granville, graduating from High School in 1938. He worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Kramer, ND for one year, and then worked construction and for area farmers for the next few years.
Vane was united in marriage to Hazel Lee, also of rural Granville, December 6, 1941, in Velva, ND. They made their home in Minot, where he worked for Westland Oil Company. On November 11, 1943, he was inducted into active service for the US Army, serving with the sixth infantry division in the Pacific Theatre, including New Guinea, Philippines, and Korea. Vane was accorded the Bronze Arrowhead Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Service Star and Victory Medals and also Two Purple Hearts for his faithful and honorable service. He was honorably discharged December 16, 1945.
Following service to his country, Vane returned to Minot and continued his employment with Westland as an agent until 1959.
He was employed as a Civilian Fuel systems engineer at Minot Air Force Base from 1959 until his retirement in 1983. Vane was awarded with the Civilian Award for Valor, the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian for his heroism in preventing an ammonia catastrophe at the Minot Air Force Base on May 5, 1970.
Vane was a longtime member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where he was active as an elder, served as President of the congregation, and taught Sunday school.
He was a lifetime member of the Minot American Legion Post #26, having served as Post Commander.
Vane served in a number of offices and committees, including serving as chairman for the 1975 State Convention. He also served as the Sixth District Commander and was presented with the “Mr. District Commander Plaque” for having led the sixth district to the highest percentage increase of membership for all districts in the nation. He was the first North Dakotan to receive this award.
Vane was also a member of the VFW, DAV, World War II Last Man’s Club, Retired Federal Employees and the National Association of the Dusty Rose. He was a former member of the Minot Eagles Aerie and Lutheran Toastmasters Organization. He had also served as Past President of the Minot LLL (Lutheran Laymen’s League).