2nd Lieutenant F. Robert Thoroughgood (1910–1942)

Thoroughgood in The 1929 Blue Hen (Courtesy of the University of Delaware, enhanced with MyHeritage)
ResidencesCivilian Occupation
Born in Pennsylvania, moved to Delaware by age 9Insurance underwriter
BranchService Number
U.S. ArmyO-289914
Zone of InteriorUnknown Coast Artillery Corps unit

Early Life & Family

Frank Robert Thoroughgood was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, on July 9, 1910. He was the son of Robert William Thoroughgood (a college professor, 1878–1933) and Laura Maude Thoroughgood (née Sharp, 1884–1975). Census records, directories, and his headstone refer to him as F. Robert Thoroughgood. He had a younger sister, Annie Jeannette Thoroughgood (later Werntz, 1911–1996).

By January 6, 1920, the family was living on Railroad Avenue in Georgetown, Delaware, at F. Robert’s grandmother Annie Thoroughgood’s house. (The 1910 census indicated that the address was 204 Railroad Avenue.)  Later in 1920, the family moved to Newark, Delaware, where Robert Thoroughgood taught civil engineering at the University of Delaware.

According to a December 10, 1942, article printed in The Newark Post, Thoroughgood:

attended the Newark High School, graduating in 1926 and entered [University of Delaware] September 17, 1926 as an arts and science student.  He majored in business administration and was elected to Phi Kappa Phi, honorary society.

Thoroughgood was on the college honor roll all four years and was a member of the R.O.T.C.  He was also a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity at the college and was corresponding secretary of the fraternity.

As of April 1930, the family was living at 46 East Delaware Avenue in Newark. A 1932 Wilmington, Delaware, directory recorded him as living in Newark but working as a clerk for the Continental American Life Insurance Company in Wilmington. Professor Thoroughgood died in 1933.

Thoroughgood in an undated photograph (Courtesy of the Newark History Museum, enhanced with MyHeritage)

By the time they were next recorded on the census on April 2, 1940, F. Robert Thoroughgood, his mother, and sister had moved to 38 West Delaware Avenue. Thoroughgood was working as an insurance underwriter at the time. When he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, Thoroughgood’s employer was still listed as the Continental American Life Insurance Company in nearby Wilmington. He was described as standing five feet, six inches tall and weighing 173 lbs., with brown hair. Oddly, his eye color was listed as both gray and brown.

Military Career

A State of Delaware Individual Military Service Record submitted to the Delaware Public Archives Commission during or shortly after the war (neither signed nor dated but presumably filled out by his mother or sister) stated that Thoroughgood was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s Coast Artillery Corps on August 23, 1942, at Fort DuPont, Delaware.

The December 10, 1942, article in The Newark Post stated that Thoroughgood was “attending officers training school at Fort Monroe, Va.” when “He was taken ill in October and went to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington[.]” 2nd Lieutenant Thoroughgood died on the evening of December 9, 1942. The illness was described as “a heart ailment[.]” Just 32 years old, Lieutenant Thoroughgood was the first of 29 men connected with the Newark area to die while serving in the armed forces during World War II.  He was buried at the Union Cemetery in Georgetown, Delaware, where other members of his family including his parents and paternal grandparents also rest.


Direct Commission?

The available documents indicate that Thoroughgood was commissioned directly, and indeed, there is no enlistment card for him. That would suggest he was indeed commissioned as an officer without being an enlisted man first, notwithstanding the fact that approximately 13% of enlistment cards could not be digitized. Fort Monroe did have a Coastal Artillery School and an Officer Candidate School. However, given the length of time he was at Fort Monroe, he could not have graduated from O.C.S. there before falling sick.

It does not appear that Thoroughgood had special skills (such as being a doctor or dentist) that would have allowed him to be direct commissioned today, but I have very little information about the U.S. Army’s policies during World War II.  It is also possible that he had some undisclosed history in the National Guard.

Photo Enhancement

The photos on this page were digitally enhanced using tools on the genealogy website MyHeritage. This software is useful in instances where the only known photograph is of limited resolution (due to the resolution of yearbook printing in one case and because a somewhat fuzzy picture had to be photographed behind glass in the other). I believe them to be accurate reconstructions, but the software could potentially introduce errors by misinterpreting fuzzy details in the original photograph. A comparison of the original and enhanced versions of the photos can be viewed below.


Special thanks to the University of Delaware and Newark History Museum for the use of their photographs of Thoroughgood.


The 1929 Blue Hen. Courtesy of the University of Delaware. https://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/9753/1929_04_Classes.pdf

“2LT Frank Robert Thoroughgood.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/54165875/frank-robert-thoroughgood

Frank Robert Thoroughgood Individual Military Service Record, date unknown. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/21139

“Local Man Dies at Walter Reed Hospital.”  The Newark Post. December 10, 1942, Pg. 1. https://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/18853/np_033_47.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

“Newark Army Officer Dies in Washington.” Wilmington Morning News, December 11, 1942. Pg. 41. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/68149029/frank-robert-thoroughgood-obit/

“Newark School Worker to Wed.” Journal-Every Evening, December 31, 1959. Pg. 11. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/68167006/frank-r-thoroughgoods-sister/

Pennsylvania Birth certificates, 1906-1910. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/60484/images/47550_2421401755_0184-03176, https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/60484/images/48218_1421012671_0129-01731

Polk’s Wilmington (Delaware) City Directory 1932–33.  R. L. Polk & Company Publishers, 1938. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16085706

“R. W. Thoroughgood, Professor of Civil Engineering, Dies.” The Newark Post, December 7, 1933. Pg. 1. https://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/18422/np_024_44.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

“Students to Attend Funeral of Instructor.” Wilmington Morning News, December 9, 1933. Pg. 10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/68154389/robert-w-thoroughgood/

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7884/images/31111_4327434-00894  

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4295769-00391

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4531890_00811

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-00546-00240  

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_09_00010-01037

Last updated on December 2, 2021

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