Beloved husband, father, and grandfather, James King Thomas, 80, passed away on Oct. 16th, 2019, at Lee Memorial Hospital from complications of Parkinsons Disease.
Jim was born on Dec. 27th, 1938, in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, to the late Oliver and Bertha King Thomas. He was a graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School, where he excelled in basketball and football, earning recognition as “Mr. Touchdown” of Ohio Valley. Jim met Ann Wakefield at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, in 1961. (In fact, they actually met at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, while on dates with other people! Both were attending OU but hadn’t met yet.) Jim was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and he graduated from OU in 1962 with degrees in Economics and Accounting. He then served as 1st Lieutenant in the Army in Germany from 1962-1964. In 1964, he married Ann, his wife and best friend for 55 years.
Jim’s career in business took them to several states, where they enjoyed many friendships. Jim moved the family from Ohio in the early 1970s to Southern California, back to Ohio, and then to Tennessee. Jim retired as Vice-President of Specialty Products of Sunbeam-Oster, in the 1990s, and Jim and Ann moved to Lexington, Kentucky, to be near his favorite place, the Keeneland Track. They spent winters here in Bonita Springs until they became full-time Florida residents several years ago.
Dad supported his entire family in every way, including regular trips back to Ohio from Southern California in the 1970s to visit his and Ann’s families in Mt. Pleasant and Williamstown, W. VA. He was a loving, supportive father, always offering hugs and affection, warmth, and encouragement. When we were young, he coached our sports teams and taught us by example to work hard. Dad guided us with good advice and encouraged us to be independent and take chances. He supported us through major transitions in our lives. Dad also was an amazing grandpa to Brett’s children, Owen and Lily. Owen will remember his grandpa for giving him his first ice cream, playing countless hours of checkers, and cheering him on in basketball. Lily always had her grandpa’s unconditional love and support. Dad and Mom showed us the meaning of love through their remarkable marriage.
Jim was always respectful of all, and as a result people respected him both professionally and personally. He was kind, down to earth, and mild-mannered. His sense of humor was sweet and involved funny little observations and quips. He maintained most of that humor even as his condition worsened and it became more difficult to speak. Beyond loving spending time with family and especially dancing with Ann, Jim’s passions and interests were running (for decades!), thoroughbred horse racing, his many friendships, the stock market, ice cream, the card game bridge, and espionage novels.
Jim is survived by Ann; daughter Susan (Johanna Jarvis), of NYC; daugher Brett (Russ Honican) and grandchildren Owen and Lily, of Los Angeles. Ann writes that his daughters were his great pride and joy. Jim was pre-deceased by his parents and his sister Jane Vejsicky. He is also survived by his sister Mary Juniewich, his brothers-in-law Gene Vejsicky, Jeff Wakefield, and John Wakefield; his sisters-in-law Kay Wakefield and Janet Wakefield; his nieces Cathy Menke, Suzanne Juniewich, Pam Wakefield, and Molly Hunt; and his nephews Scott Vejsicky and Michael Wakefield. Memorial services will be scheduled at a later time in Bonita Springs.
Jim’s family likes to picture him having arrived at the great racetrack in the sky, with his family and friends, a winning superfecta ticket in hand.