In tribute: Danny Thomas

By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer

Family members remember Danny Thomas as a talented musician with a big heart — and an ugly dog.

Aunt Bobbie Banister said she will miss his singing most of all.

“One man told me one time that if you drink just three beers, (Thomas) would sound like Willie Nelson,” said Banister, a senior citizen, remembering Thomas’ sense of humor and generosity.

Thomas grew up in Portales and still has family in the area. He died June 2 in an Abilene, Texas, hospital.

According to his obituary, Thomas moved to Abilene in 1978 and became a professional musician.

“He helped me buy a car in Abilene one time,” Banister said. “I wrecked (another car) in a ditch and he was kind enough to help me find a new one.”

Banister said her nephew had four grandchildren “he was crazy about” and his little white dog was “mentioned in his obituary.”

“His name was Buddy Buster, and he was the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen,” Banister said. “His teeth were always stuck out there like he needed a dentist. I don’t know why Danny liked that thing so much.”

Another aunt, Vicky Howard of Clovis, said the family is having an autopsy done to see why they 53-year-old musician died suddenly during a doctor’s visit.

“At first, they thought it was a massive heart attack,” Howard said. “And then (doctors) thought it was something else. But we don’t really know right now.”

Howard said Thomas, who didn’t get to visit the Clovis-Portales area too often, received his musical talent from his father’s side of the family.

“They were all very musical,” she said.

She also said her nephew was religious and had polio as a young child. Thomas was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, family said.

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: