Billy Duane Thomas affectionately known as, “Bill” was born September 15, 1950, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He was the youngest son of six children born to Robert and Evelyn Thomas. His parents and three siblings, Jerry, Larry, and Linda, preceded him in death.
Bill attended elementary in Willow Run, Michigan, and in 1960 the family migrated to California. Bill attended James A. Foshay Middle School, and graduated from Washington Preparatory High School in June 1968. Bill continued his education at Los Angeles Trade Technical, Southwest Community College and California State University at Dominguez Hills, where he studied Business and Photography.
On July 29, 1970, Bill met his first girlfriend and sweetheart, Linda Harper who later became his wife on July 27, 1974. To their union they were blessed with six children: Terrie Speed, Cheri Thomas, August Thomas, September Thomas (deceased), Sharmaine Thomas and William Thomas II. Bill was a “real” family man who loved his wife and children very much. Before the birth of their first child Bill sold his drag racing car to buy a 1971 Monte Carlo to transport the newborn baby safely. Bill always took his responsibility seriously as a father and it was his deepest desire to always be a good provider; he never complained about anything.
Bill was a successful entrepreneur of many businesses. He would always say, “If they can do it, I can do it” and “If I can believe it, I can achieve it”. He is best known for his business, “Bill Thomas Photography” where he captured many official historical recorded events for the City of Compton, which some are still hanging and can be viewed in the Compton City Hall. He also provided historical photographic records for the City of Lynwood, Compton Unified School District, The Brotherhood Crusade, The Kingdom Day Parade, various California State Political Officials, NAACP (Los Angeles and Compton Chapters), and various newspapers: The Wave, The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Compton Bulletin, and The Lynwood Journal.
In 2006 Mr. Thomas and his wife moved to Lanett, Alabama, where they currently reside. Having the same drive and ambitious nature about him, there he started Bill Thomas Ice Cream, where the community’s children gave him the nickname “Ice Cream Man”. In his later days he opened Tow Man Towing and The Auto Parts Store. With Tow Man Towing he built allies with the Police Departments of Lanett and Valley, AL, Westpoint, GA, the Chamber County Sheriff Department and various roadside service companies.
Mr. Thomas was well known in his community, where he served as Block Watch Captain for many years. He was well respected by the children of the neighborhood (on Waldorf Drive, Lynwood CA), remembered for trips to the beach, front yard barbeques, and fun filled block-wide water fights on hot days.
Bill lit up a room with his radiant and vibrant personality. He was a great inspiration to his family, friends, and business associates who all would often seek his advice. Those who knew him could count on his high integrity and straightforwardness.
He leaves to cherish his memory and celebrate his living: his wife of nearly 40 years Linda Rae Thomas, his children: Terrie (James), Cheri (Tim), August (Lakeith), Sharmaine (Elliott), William II (LaShell), his grandchildren: Rashad, Stacey, Andrew, Cherterra, Terrell, Robert, David, Destiny, Torina, DezRae, Toria, Lakeith “TJ”, Jr., Carlton, Isaiah, Ahnya, Jayson, Andrea, William, III “Lil Will”, three sisters : Marsha (Thornell, deceased) , Nancy (Tony) and Monique, two brothers: Derrick and Leroy (Cynora), one sister-in-law Rita Thomas (Larry, deceased), a host of nieces, nephews and friends.