Neil graduated from FE Bellows High School, enlisted US Maritime Service, left as second class seaman. In 1945, he joined Esso, and voyaged on their ships to Europe, the Mediterranean, and coastline of the Americas. On returning to land in 1951, he went to work for American Cyanamid, retiring in 1983. In 1952, he married his beloved Ruth Edna (Schmaus) Thomas in Mount Vernon, New York. With employment in Connecticut, Neil and Ruth made their home in Greenwich.
Neil was drawn by the sea and so the Thomas navy had many fine vessels: S-boat, a 27-foot Herreshoff, on which Neil brought Ruth for cruises on Long Island Sound, that being Ruth’s introduction to sailing and the incentive for a sympathetic friend to gift Ruth a copy of the book “I Married a Boat” on their first anniversary; Escape, the wooden lifeboat Neil decked to make a racing cruiser; Aeolus, a 19-foot Flying Scot for racing; Caprice, a 26-foot classic Quincy Adams for racing; Gannet, a 30-foot Etchells for racing; Cryogenic, a 10-foot Dyer for winter racing; an unnamed Sunfish for a few seasons; Jibe-ho, the 36-foot trawler in which Neil and Ruth cruised the eastern seaboard and waterways from Canada to the Caribbean with a trusting cat along as passenger.
Neil joined the U.S. Power Squadron 1952, was a member of Greenwich Sail & Power Squadron for 62 years and achieved the rank of Junior Navigator. He was a member of the Old Greenwich Boat Club, and the Riverside Yacht Club.
Neil was predeceased by Ruth; they are buried together next to his grandparents in Bronxville, New York. Ruth and Neil are survived by their children, Karen Varbaro and Neil R Thomas Jr.
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