James "Jim" Henry Thomas, a Westinghouse Electric Corp. employee for 30 years who was active in the Order of the Sons of Italy, died in his sleep Wednesday at his Ocean Pines home. He was 77 and had colon cancer.
Born in Baltimore, he was the fifth child of Carl and Caroline Thomas, who ran Thomas' Bakery on Pratt Street. He grew up in Highlandtown and graduated from Patterson High School in the mid-1940s.
Mr. Thomas reached the rank of lance corporal in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He later earned an associate's degree in business and computer programming at Catonsville Community College. He remained a proud Marine all his life, family members said.
He worked for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore and later as a computer operator for Westinghouse, where he was employed for 30 years before retiring in 1986.
Mr. Thomas was proud of his Italian-American heritage and held leadership positions, including national trustee, in the Order of the Sons of Italy. He was active in promoting the annual Columbus Day parade in Baltimore.
In retirement, he split his time between Ocean Pines and Florida. He enjoyed playing softball, and competed in the sport in the Delaware Senior Olympics in 1998.
"He was a very good father and grandfather and husband and great-grandfather," said his stepson, Joseph Primavera Jr. of Marriottsville. "He made you feel important when you spoke to him. He was a very attentive listener."
A funeral Mass was offered Saturday.
In addition to his stepson, he is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Lucy Josephine Contrino; a stepdaughter, Donna Maria Guildener of Berlin; two brothers, Joseph Thomas of Baltimore and George Thomas of York, Pa.; a sister, Marie Claire Palardy of Baltimore; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.