In the early hours of July 24, 2019, Estelle Wayne Thruston died quietly surrounded by family. ‘Wayne’ as he preferred, was born to Birtha and Warren Thruston in Lee’s Summit, Missouri on September 21, 1919. He, along with his brother, Russell, was raised on the family farm. Wayne fondly referred to that time as ‘the good old days’. Those days developed Wayne’s love for gardening, hunting and hard work. The first of two family farms was sold to Unity School of Christianity, the first purchase of the present holding of Unity Farm. The second of two farms, was Hazel Grove, for which the town’s two room schoolhouse would be its namesake. These farms were where Wayne learned the skill of refrigeration, cooling the apples in the summer. The grape orchards undoubtedly developed his palate for sweet wine as well.
Being more mechanically inclined, Wayne and his brother both forewent the path of farmer. After graduating high school in 1938, Wayne attended Diesel Engine School. Jobs were scarce in The Great Depression and left Wayne searching for work. He and two buddies packed his 1935 Pontiac convertible and headed west to Santa Monica. Upon arrival, he received a job with Douglas Aircraft where he tested engines for commercial and army call bombers. A couple of his famous California adventures included Indian motorcycle rides across the salt flats and a chance meeting with Clark Gable on the beach. As WWII ramped up, Wayne was inducted in the Active Air Force Reserve. He soon became a crew chief and flight engineer, making 32 trips to the South Pacific. One of the most memorable being the Guam belly landing as a result of Japanese fire. He was virtually unscathed with the exception of one tooth.
At the request of a commander, Wayne was called to serve as a refrigeration engineer with the Merchant Marines and Coast Guard. Securing himself a job after the war, he obliged. Aboard ships delivering food and supplies, Wayne made innumerable trips to the Philippines, Japan, Guam and Australia during WWII. After the war, he moved to New Orleans, where he worked for United Fruit Company. He made several trips to Central America carrying passengers and bringing back bananas. This route developed his love for Cuba, its cigars and his signature drink.
During a visit home, he met Glorian Mineo at the Playmore Ballroom who he married in 1949. Wayne thought Glorian was the cat’s meow. They were married for over 50 years, residing in Independence, Missouri. They enjoyed dancing the jitter bug to Big Bands, frequenting local buffets and gambling nickels at the casinos. They had one child, their beloved Joann, who Glorian claimed to be a miniature Wayne upon her arrival. In his likeness, he instilled work ethic, determination and perseverance.
Wayne was proud of his 35 year career at Ford Motor Company, where he served as a power house engineer. He also loved fixing things, being outdoors, reading nonfiction and being active. He was a true artisan and picked up wood working and carving after his retirement. He had a true gift and found his happy place to be in his woodshop.
Above all, Wayne loved his family the most, and in later years, called them his ‘gang’. This included his family in Arizona and his extended family & friends near and far. He was preceded in death by his parents, Birtha & Warren Thruston, his brother Russel, his wife Glorian, along with Sisters and Brothers in law; Mary & Jack Wilson and Ross & Lucy Lee Mineo.
He had a deep love for his family that survived him: Daughter & Son in Law; Joann & David Agin, David’s Brother, Mark Agin, Granddaughters & Grandson in Law; Andrea Collins, Stephanie & David Moore, Great Granddaughters; Hamdi & Emma Collins, Nieces, Nephews & Spouses; Betty Jo & Don McKee, Bill & Debi Wilson and Gary & Sharolyn Mineo, along with Great Nieces and Nephews; John Mineo & Michelle Helton, Judi Bachman & Rick McKee, Kevin & Mark Wilson and all their spouses.
For all who met Wayne, acknowledge the gift it was to know him. His life was truly remarkable and what story books are made of. He’s a legend. So as his military discharge papers state, let this too be a testimonial of his ‘Honest and Faithful Service’ in this life.