Yes, all copyright permissions (letters, e-mails, forms etc) must be retained by you for as long as the copied item exists.
No! No response does not automatically give you the right to use an item. Try sending a follow-up email, make a telephone call (if possible), and if everything fails try to find an alternative. If do need to include it in a thesis you should make a note to omit this image from copies made available to the public.