Sign business entrepreneur Thomas dies

By Bryan Richardson

Blaine Thomas, a prominent local businessman, died Friday in his home at age 90.

Thomas owned Thomas Sign Service, a billboard business, at 1515 Fair Lane. He began operation in 1941.

Thomas became a bit of civic activist throughout the years, continually bickering with city government on behalf of his business.

In 1977, he asked the city to allow for the construction of outdoor advertising signs in several commercial and industrial areas – at a time when they were banned inside the city limits.

In 1990, the city considered legal action against Thomas for what

it believed was a violation of the municipal sign ordinance – in another squabble over Thomas’ various signs.

Thomas ran the billboard business for 60 years until his son, Bart, took over.

Blaine Thomas also collected many antiques, such as an old-time soda fountain, music instruments and shooting gallery from Coney Island – keeping them in a warehouse near his business.

It served as a museum of sorts, with Blaine often giving tours of the warehouse.

Among the Thomas collection was a Bob’s Big Boy statue, which he presented as a gift to Rusty Wilson, owner of Kite’s and Rusty’s.

Wilson appeared on History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” with the statute during the fall.

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