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Larry LeRoy Thomas, 81, of Newton (formerly of Killduff) died on Thursday, January 25, 2024 at Newton Health Care Center. A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at the Wallace Family Funeral Home and Crematory. The family will greet friends from 5-7 p.m., Monday, January 29, at the funeral home. Memorials in Larry’s name (checks made payable to Julie Dodds) may be left at the funeral home.
Larry was born on March 21, 1942 in Newton to Herbert and Marie (Pentico) Thomas. He was raised in Newton and graduated from Newton High School in the class of 61.
Larry worked as a tree trimmer, at the bowling alley, Maytag, Winpower, Sully Creamery, Sully Co-op, DunLap Mfg., and finally settled at Vermeer Mfg. in Pella. He retired after 35 years. He was a member of Grinnell Friends Church.
After high school Larry worked at Brunswick Center Lanes in the Newton Shopping Center. There he discovered his talent for bowling, even earning an appearance on Des Moines’ “Let’s Go Bowling” TV show. He was a member of several bowling leagues through the years.
Newton Shopping Center was also where Larry met the love of his life. He would frequently “visit” his brother Marv at Neisner’s Five & Dime, where Margie also just happened to work. On September 10th, 1963, Larry was united in marriage with Marjorie Loree Winchell at Killduff Methodist Church. Margie & Larry were proud to have celebrated 60 wonderful years together. They made their first home in Newton, and then moved to Killduff, where they would raise their 4 children.
Larry was a jack-of-all-trades. He learned a lot in high school shop class building furniture. Of the many items he built, a desk, dresser and night table are still in use. He built a bedroom addition on his home in Killduff, and when Margie opened her beauty shop, he remodeled an old bedroom, built an outside entrance, and crafted her sign for the front yard. With his skills he picked up from DunLap Mfg., he also created her business cards and ashtrays with her logo on them. Thomas Screening was created when he decided to screen-print t-shirts. He and his brothers-in-law were always fixing a car, roofing a house or lending each other a hand on the next project.
Larry was a retired member of Kellogg Lions Club where he served as club secretary for many years. He volunteered for parades, pancake breakfast fundraisers, collected old eyeglasses and hearing aids for recycling and organized blood drives. He was honored to be at the 10-gallon blood donor level. He enjoyed going to the local schools in Jasper County to provide early detection vision screening for kids, with equipment provided by Lions Club International.
Larry was so proud of his kids & grandkids and encouraged all of their activities. He and daughter Julie took up photography when they got a co father’s day/her birthday gift of a Kodak K1000 35mm camera. Larry would go on to enter many photos in the Jasper County Fair. When younger, his daughter Mary would take up bowling and he was thrilled to share his knowledge of the game with her.
Can we talk “dad jokes”- Larry was the king! He loved a laugh and comedy, from the Sunday Comics, Mad Magazine to Monty Python. He never knew a stranger and always had a story or five to tell you. He loved watching TV and movies, old westerns, and sit-coms. He was an Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Vikings fan and enjoyed going to the Iowa Speedway races with his brother Marv. These last few years Larry enjoyed tapping a foot and singing along to the oldies.
Larry is survived by his wife Margie; daughters Julie (Gary) Dodds, Mary (Dave) McPartlin, both of Newton; grandchildren, Cameron Dodds, Hayley Dodds, Ashley Criswell (Brandon Bonschmit), Landon (Katy) Criswell, Conner, Kaetlin, Micah and Madeline McPartlin; great-grandchildren Kinsley and Raelynn Bonschmit; Brother Keith (Janet) Thomas; Brothers-in-law Ralph Winchell, Walt (Lori) Claussen; Sisters-in-law Dorothy Weyers, Patty Winchell, Cindy Claussen, Violet Thomas and Arlene Thomas; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; son Jeffrey (in 1968); daughter JoAnna (in 2014); brothers John, Dick and Marv.