Former councilman loved Dearborn, politics

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Known as the “Watchdog of Dearborn,” Doug Thomas served 21 years on the Dearborn City Council but his passion for the city stretched beyond his official stint.

“The city of Dearborn and politics were his life,” said Jane Thomas, his wife of 15 years. “Politics of every kind. The city of Dearborn — he just lived and breathed (it).”

Mr. Thomas passed away Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, in Florida where he moved in 2009. He was 82.

Mr. Thomas was born June 29, 1932, and was raised in Dearborn. He was exposed to politics at an early age when his father served as a campaign manager for former Dearborn Mayor Orville Hubbard, Jane Thomas said.

He graduated from Dearborn High School in 1950 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Bowling Green State University in 1954. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1954, where he served in active duty for two years. He then served in the Army Reserves until 1964.

As the owner of Fairlane Travel for 29 years, Mr. Thomas enjoyed coordinating trips for clients and also traveling the world himself, his wife said.

He was elected to the Dearborn City Council in 1981. In 1985, he made an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Dearborn and was re-elected to the council in 1989. He served five terms between 1990 and 2009.

“I always appreciated Doug’s service on the City Council and his commitment to what he believed was best for Dearborn,” Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. said in a statement. “As councilman, he fully engaged in support of his position and thereby made Democracy work in Dearborn. He also possessed (a) great sense of humor and a knack for keeping you on your toes. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his service.”

Mr. Thomas was very approachable, an asset that served him well in his role as a councilman, his wife said.

“If there were any citizen problems ... he’d be right at the door,” she said.

In addition to his passion for politics, Mr. Thomas loved sports, particularly baseball, his wife said. He played golf up until three years ago, she said.

Mr. Thomas is also survived by daughters Pam Thomas and Debbie Kraus; and stepson Jeff Valentine.

A gathering to celebrate his life will be held 6:30 p.m. March 21 at Beer Garden at 22184 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

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