Napoleon Thomas Jr. was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1969. Thomas was later employed by the U.S. Postal Service until his retirement. The devoted family man and native Philadelphian who resided in the lower northeast section of the city died from complications of diabetes on October 28. He was 63.
“My brother was a very private person who did not talk about his health problems at all. With me being a nurse, I would give him advice, but that is as far as I could go,” Gail Bunting said.
Thomas was born on March 11, 1948 to Hattie Mae Thomas and the late Napoleon Thomas Sr. in Philadelphia.
“Everybody called my brother “Skeeter.” He attended Leidy Elementary and Sulzberger Junior High schools. When he went to Bok, he really came into his own. He ran on the cross country varsity track team for three years. We were so proud of him. His academic specialty was commercial art, his true love,” Bunting said.
“Skeeter went into the service right after high school. He was a security policeman with the 12th Squadron in the United States Air Force, serving for four years. Upon discharge, he was a sergeant and received the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service. My brother was really proud of his military service,” said his sister.
She continued and spoke of his life after his honorable discharge.
“After his discharge, Napoleon settled in Denver, Colorado where he purchased a home and attended college. While there, he met the late Cynthia Childress. They married and were blessed with one son, Montee. When my brother returned to Philadelphia, he and his teenage sweetheart, Janice, reconnected and were married,” Bunting said.
Employed at the United States Postal Service, Thomas worked as a postal carrier until his retirement.
“Skeeter enjoyed his work with the Post Office, but devoted his off time to his passion, artistic pursuits. He was a wonderful painter. I am so glad to have the extensive collection of drawings and oil paintings that my brother produced. My favorite is his self portrait that hung over his bed. I will cherish his works, because they represent his heart,” his sister said.
Thomas leaves to mourn: son, Montee Thomas; mother, Hattie Mae Thomas; two grandchildren, Vanessa and Montee Jr.; two sisters, Evelyn Woods and Gail Bunting; brother-in-law, Daniel Woods; former wife, Janice Thomas; two nieces, Jamila Evans and Veronica Woods; nephew, Michael Bunting Jr.; two great nieces, Nia Pugh and Lemeah French; good friend, Michael Bunting Sr.; and a host of stepchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.
A memorial service was held November 5 at Walter E. Sabbath Jr. Funeral Service.