It seems fitting that Thomas Black was the first man from Cañon City to enlist after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was born on the Fourth of July after all!
Born in Paris, Illinois, Black moved to Cañon City in 1926 and worked for the Batchelor Creamery for a short time. He then joined the Department of Corrections as a prison guard. According to records, Black joined the Navy the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served in the Pacific Theater for the length of World War II on the USS Pensacola. During that time, he collected his fair share of medals including two medals for service in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign, a Good Conduct medal, and a medal for service in the American Campaign. Black was discharged from the army on December 26, 1945 in Shoemaker, California.
During a shore leave, Black returned to marry Genevieve Skufka in Raton, New Mexico in July 1943. Their marriage was unique because they did not live in the same city. His wife had a job at Colorado Fuel & Iron (CF&I) in Pueblo while Black returned to work at the Department of Corrections in Cañon City. The two had separate lodgings in their cities of employment but spent their weekends together. Black worked his way up the ranks in the prison and retired in 1975 as a captain.
Black was a member of the Elks Club, the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He died in 1997 at the age of 91 and was cremated and buried at sea on December 9, 1997. We are lucky here at the museum to hold a collection of papers, photos, and objects that once belonged to Thomas Black that provide a glimpse into his life.
Happy Birthday Thomas Black!
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.
 Thomas Black papers and ephemera, 2009.091, Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center, Cañon City, Colorado.