Obituaries » Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen

Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen

July 28, 1922 - February 25, 2018

U.S. Veteran

Service Date: February 10, 2018

Funeral Home Rose-Neath Shreveport Marshall St.

Cemetery

 A Memorial Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, February 10, 2018, at the Chapel at The Oaks of Louisiana, 600 East Flournoy Lucas Road, Shreveport, LA 71115, with Dr. Donald A. Webb and Rev. Andrew Comeaux officiating. A reception will follow in the Franks Centre at the Oaks.

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Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen, Shreveport, LA died on January 25, 2018 at the War Veterans Home in Bossier City, LA. Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen was born in 1922 in Gary, Indiana to Francis Thorne-Thomsen, who was a Norwegian emigrant, and Doris Davidson who was a Daughter of the American Revolution.  Very early in his life Fletcher became interested in Photography and he helped support his family with photographic projects (commercial and industrial photography and portraits) and from prizes from photographic contests.  In the 1930s, almost every newspaper and magazine in the US ran photographic contests with cash prizes.  Fletcher won many of the local contests earning $15 or $20 for each contest and sometimes more.  The most significant prize he won was a Kodak national prize and Fletcher earned $1,000 for a high contrast photo of seagulls and clouds, and he remembered seeing the photograph when he was a soldier in WWII displayed in the window of a photographic store in a small village in Germany.  The prizes not only supplemented family income during the tough economic times of the Depression, but they also allowed him to go to college.  He went to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana to study engineering and supplemented his photography income as a surveyor. 

 When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Fletcher and his younger brother, Tom both enlisted.  Tom was the first to be sent overseas.  He went to London and worked and maintained bomber sights in the London area.  Fletcher, because of his two years of engineering study at Purdue University, stayed stateside and received basic and extended training at Fort Polk in Leesville, Louisiana.  In letters to his future wife, Barbara Macoubrey, during the war and in conversations after, Fletcher vowed that he would never go back to Louisiana, that he would never shoot a gun again and that he would never go camping.  He obviously violated the first rule but never regretted his move to Louisiana; he truly loved Shreveport.  With kids in the Scouts, he violated rule two and three more reluctantly.  Fletcher’s next stop was Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa for further training.  At Grinnell, he met his future wife, Barbara who was attending Grinnell and had been born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota.  At the time, Fletcher was not sure whether he would go to Europe or the Pacific.  After D Day and the slow drive through Belgium and the Netherlands, Fletcher was sent to Belgium to for combat, but he always thought that he would eventually end up going to help in the invasion of Japan.  In Belgium, Fletcher assisted in the clean-up effort following The Battle of the Bulge.  As a Sargent in General George Patton’s army Fletcher was responsible for leading a group of soldiers to scout and map artillery positions and bombing targets in Germany. 

 After the war, Fletcher never spoke of his military action and it was not until 30 years later that he started talking about what he had done and what he had seen.  The impetus for the change was the fact that the memory of the Holocaust had dimmed among many Americans and that there were numbers of Holocaust deniers, one of whom ran for the governorship of Louisiana.  It was much later when Fletcher disclosed that he had received two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Battle Stars. Having seen the effects first hand of the atrocities of the Holocaust while going through Germany and Czechoslovakia, he decided he needed to speak out.  Fletcher was active in making speeches about his experiences during the war and about his memories of the Holocaust. 

 After the war, Fletcher moved back to Gary, IN, married Barbara and fathered four children.  He worked as a carpenter and as a surveyor.  He eventually went to work for Procon, Incorporated, the construction arm of Universal Oil Products.  Working for Procon, Fletcher and Barbara travelled widely as Fletcher was the superintendent of a crew erecting vessels at oil refineries.  The jobs were fairly short-term and as a result each of four of Fletcher’s and Barbara’s children were born in a different place.  His son Fletcher was born in Salt Lake City, Tom was born in El Dorado, Kansas, Ann in Gary, Indiana and Mark in St. Paul, Minnesota.  And these four cities were only some of the cities in which the family lived during this time period.  Others included Buenos Aires, Argentina, Houston, Texas, and Oak Lawn Illinois.  With the first two kids in elementary school, Fletcher asked for a job that would not involve relocations and the family moved to Shreveport.  Fletcher became the superintendent of a Procon division named Fabsteel located in Waskom, Texas.  This company was involved in steel fabrication for the oil and petro-chemical industry.  Under Fletcher’s stewardship, Fabsteel grew rapidly.  Despite Fletcher’s success, UOP and Procon went through a restructuring and Fletcher had the opportunity to buy the company.  Fletcher used a leveraged buyout form of purchase (before the word became as well-known as it is today) with other managers of Fabsteel. 

 Under his stewardship Fabsteel grew to 6 locations, including one in Shreveport, and 1500 employees.  Fletcher was progressive in his hiring practices as one of the first firms in the Shreveport area to hire African Americans as welders, fitters and managers.  He also opened Fabsteel’s apprenticeship program to African Americans.  Additionally, he started a summer jobs program that provided numerous jobs over the years to college students.  Many college eligible kids may not have been able to go to college without these jobs.  During the oil patch downturn in the in the 80s Fletcher was forced to liquidate the company.  He said that this was the toughest thing he had ever done.  During this period, Fletcher always had a fresh rose on his desk from the bushes in front of his mother and father’s apartment at The Oaks of Louisiana (then known as Live Oak) in Shreveport.  When asked, he always said he wanted to have one thing on his desk that was beautiful. 

 When Fletcher and Barbara’s kids were growing up, Fletcher took a few photographs and numerous family movies, but it was not until the 1970s that he once again became enthralled with photography.  He and Barbara produced a Christmas Card every year with one of his photographs and his work was featured in numerous shows including a one man show at the Norton Art Gallery.  He also published several books and a line of note cards. 

 Outside of his work and his photographic passion, Fletcher was a director of The First National Bank of Shreveport and served as a trustee of Centenary College of Louisiana.  He was also active in several arts organizations in the Shreveport area and was on the board of the National Association of Manufacturers and the United Nations Association.  He helped found the Red River Reveille and the magazine, Louisiana Life.  Fletcher was also an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Shreveport. 

 Perhaps Fletcher’s greatest passion was working with children.  After the victory in Europe and when the Japanese surrender ended the need for soldiers to invade Japan, Fletcher tried to stay in Europe to work with displaced children.  Because this need was filled by relief organizations and permanent Army, Fletcher was sent home, but that set back did not diminish his desire to work with children.  Fletcher was active in Camp Anytown and with the Shreveport Juvenile Delinquency Court. 

 Fletcher is survived by his wife, Barbara to whom he was married 70 years, son Fletcher, Jr., his wife Margaret Regan, their two children, Carl and Christine, his son Tom and his wonderful family of friends in Shreveport, Chicago and elsewhere, his daughter Ann, her husband Mike Berry, their two children, Anita and Rachel, and his son Mark, his wife Yliana and their three children, Marcos, Barbara and Andrea.  He is also survived by four wonderful and beloved great grandchildren, Samuel, Amaya, Grant and Suzanne. 

 A Memorial Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, February 10, 2018, at the Chapel at The Oaks of Louisiana, 600 East Flournoy Lucas Road, Shreveport, LA 71115, with Dr. Donald A. Webb and Rev. Andrew Comeaux officiating. A reception will follow in the Franks Centre at the Oaks.

 Fletcher’s family would like to thank the wonderful people at the Tower at Live Oak, the skilled nursing center at Live Oak, the very loving caretakers at the War Veterans Home in Bossier City and Fletcher’s very special hospice caretakers. 

In lieu of Flowers, and if you would like to consider honoring Fletcher, the family suggests donations be made to Camp Anytown or any of the Holocaust Museum.