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Charles W. Thomas Jr., businessman

Korean War (1950-1953)Bethlehem SteelAmerican LegionIMAXMaryland Science Center

Charles W. Thomas Jr., former owner of several steel fabrication companies and a Korean War veteran, died Saturday from renal failure at Stella Maris Hospice.

The longtime Mays Chapel resident was 85.

The son of Charles W. Thomas Sr., owner of Acme Steel Engineering Co., and Mary J. Thomas, a homemaker, Charles Wesley Thomas Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton.

After graduating in 1947 from the McDonogh School, Mr. Thomas followed his father into the steel fabrication business.

He enlisted in the Army and during the Korean War served with an airborne unit in Korea, where he made several parachute jumps and then was wounded.

In the mid-1950s, he rejoined his father at Acme Steel Engineering Co., where he rose to second in command. In 1972, he left the business when he purchased McNamara Fabricators, a small steel fabrication firm that he expanded into a successful regional business.

After the death of his father and uncle, he acquired Acme Steel Engineering Co.

"Recognizable area projects which McNamara participated in would include the IMAX Theater at the Maryland Science Center, both Henderson's Wharf and Brown's Wharf in Fells Point, various long-term projects at the Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point and the BGE plant at Brandon Shores," said a son, Charles W. Thomas III of Hampden.

"He also worked on the 1991 reconstruction of Union Station in Washington as well as overseas projects in Saudi Arabia, Yugoslavia and Iran," his son said.

His professional memberships included the Steel Club of Baltimore.

After retiring and closing his businesses in the mid-1990s, he continued to work as a steel fabrication consultant for several years.

He was a lifelong member of the Shrine and Masons and had been the Master of Centre Lodge 108 in Pikesville and the Illustrious Potentate at the Boumi Temple.

He was also a member of the Scottish Rite, Camel Wheels, Royal Order of Jesters, American Legion, Elks and the Saints and Sinners.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his son, Mr. Thomas is survived by another son, Jeffery Thomas of Salt Lake City; his companion, Sharon Bowen of Lutherville; and a grandson. Another son, Joel Thomas, died in 1999. His marriage to the former Loretta T. Gajewski ended in divorce, as did a subsequent marriage in 2008.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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