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RG5197.AM:  Dean A. Woods, 1910?-1944

Papers:  1944

Milford, Seward County and Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Compositor, WWII soldier

Size:  One folder


Dean A. Woods was born circa 1910 in Kansas. His mother died when he was an adolescent, and when he was 11 years old his father remarried. Dean was sent to live with his aunt and uncle, Davison Frank and Eva S. Todd, in Milford, Seward County, Nebraska. His Uncle Frank and Aunt Eva were childless. Dean graduated from Milford High School in 1928, and began an apprenticeship with the Milford Review newspaper in September of that year. Two years later in the Spring of 1930, Dean accepted a position as a compositor with the Boomer Agencies in Lincoln, Nebraska. He worked with the company until he was inducted into military service on April 27, 1942.

Dean met Thelma Kohiro while in Lincoln before World War II. Her father, Joseph, was Japanese and her mother, Della, was American. The Kohiro family ran a restaurant and one of Thelma’s brothers, Joseph Jr., was in the printing business. Dean and Thelma dated steadily until he was drafted. Following his induction, Dean completed basic training in Missouri. On May 12, 1943, he was commissioned a second lieutenant at Fort Benning, Georgia. According to a family friend, Dean and Thelma married sometime in early Spring of 1944, while Dean was home on leave. They had to marry in Council Bluffs, Iowa, because Nebraska did not allow inter-racial marriages at that time. The couple only spent two weeks together before Dean was sent overseas in April of 1944. He was killed in action while on a reconnaissance patrol near Cherbourg, France, on July 21, 1944, and buried in the Normandy American Cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France. He received the Purple Heart. Thelma never remarried, and died in the mid-1990s.


This collection consists of materials relating mostly to the military service of Dean A. Woods. It contains a certificate, “Burial Flag,” which was sent with the flag used at his military burial service in France. Also included is a letter to family friend, Mrs. G. Thoene of Milford, written by Woods from Europe a month before his death, and miscellaneous information.

The photo component [RG5197.PH] contains portraits of Dean A. Woods and his wife, Thelma, along with snapshots of the couple and Dean’s relatives, Frank and Eva Todd.

Note: The 48 star flag used at Woods’ military burial service is housed at the Nebraska History Museum. The flag was sent to Thelma Woods by the Quartermaster General. Not all artifacts are on display; researchers must call for an appointment before scheduling a visit.


“Burial Flag” certificate

Letter to Mrs. G. Thoene, July 10, 1944

Burial information [photocopy]

Death announcement, Milford News

Kohiro Family death notices


Subject headings:

Kohiro family

Miscegenation — Nebraska

Soldiers — Family relationships

Soldiers’ bodies, Disposition of

Woods, Dean A., 1910?-1944

World War, 1939-1945 — Personal narratives


KFK   10-25-2000

11-04-2009   Revised TMM/tmm