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Charles Thomas Sr.

Charles Thomas Sr.

Charles Wilford Thomas Sr., 83, of Bemidji, died Saturday, July 26, 2014 at his home.

Funeral services will be 3:00 p.m., Saturday, August 2, 2014 at New Salem Lutheran Church, Turtle River, MN with Pastor Ron Gladen officiating. Visitation will be 5-8 p.m., Friday, August 1, 2014 at Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home with a Masonic service at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will also be one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be in Lakeview Cemetery, Blackduck, MN.

Charles Wilford Thomas was born May 1, 1931 at the unique log house in Hines, MN the son of Maxwell and Margaret (Fara Borden) Thomas the youngest of their three sons. He schooled up to the 8th grade and then took jobs working for Craig Co. oiling trucks, worked in Minneapolis for a landscaping nursery company and came back and hauled gravel locally in 1948. With his dads approval he and his cousin joined the Army in 1949. He was only 17 but his dad gave him 4 words to live his life by and it was honesty, kindness, generosity and ambition. He truly followed these words of wisdom throughout his whole life. He was sent to Fort Riley, Kansas for basic training in January 1949 and then ordered to Camp Carson, Colorado Springs, CO in May of 1949. He was trained as a gunner in the Army infantry. His unit was Regional Combat Team. War broke out in Korea. He was sent to Korea via a hospital ship the USS General John Pope and docked at Pusan, South Korea. He was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a Korean mortar shell on the day of the big push September 16, 1950. He was pronounced dead in the local newspaper but it was immediately corrected when they announced that he was critically wounded. He received the Purple Heart October 18, 1950 in San Francisco. After many hospital stays, he got released from Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC on October 31, 1951. He was honorably discharged on his release from Walter Reed Hospital on October 31, 1951. He met Shirley Mae Jensen, the love of his life and soul mate and they married November 8, 1952 in Bemidji, MN. He started Thomas Sand & Gravel business in Wyandotte, MI in 1952. They relocated to Minnesota and he perfected his profession right up to his death on July 26, 2014. He and Shirley led active lives and she blessed him with 6 more mouths to feed. He was very successful and had many customers and made many friends wherever he went and touched many lives with his practical wisdom, honesty, generosity, kindness and ambition. Chuck was a member of New Salem Lutheran Church of Turtle River, Masons, Shriners, American Legion and NRA.

He is survived by children, Betty (Steven) Haraldson of Sweeny, TX, Charles (Debra) Thomas, Jr. of Bemidji, Donald (Suzanne) Thomas of Bemidji, Sharon Rutchasky of Bemidji, Linda (Richard) Dailey of Lake Tapps, WA and Sandra (Timothy) Mansavage of Cass Lake; 16 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; sisters, Trudy Pater of Washington, Geraldine Thomas of Bemidji and Sarah Rush of South Dakota.

He was preceded in death by his parents Max and Margaret Thomas; wife Shirley Thomas his soul mate, love of his life of 60 years; son-in-law Wendell Rutchasky; brothers George Thomas and Orren Thomas; sisters Zelda Nichols and Ada Moon; great-granddaughters Miranda Thomas and Madelyn Thomas and his childhood draft horse Barney.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be directed to Sanford Home Care and Hospice or Concordia Language Villages.

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