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Robert James Thomas

Died: Wed., Sep. 21, 2011

- Service details not available -

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STEVENSVILLE - Robert James Thomas, 83, of Stevensville, passed away at home on Sept. 21, 2011, of a brain-trauma injury from an open stairway fall on Oct. 31, 2008.

Bob was born in Butte on Dec. 10, 1927, to Fred and Cora (Darrow) Thomas.

He was greeted by five grown sisters, Florence, Bernice, Lucille, Mildred and Estelle, and a 9-year-old brother Alfred (all deceased).

He often stated, "When I was 3 years old, I brought my family to the Bitterroot and I never left."

After graduation from Stevensville High School, he worked on his father's ranch before attending Montana State University and becoming a loyal Bobcat. He received his degree in business at the University of Montana.

At the age of 27 he married Dorene Ditty of Missoula and became the  father of Bob, Jerry,  Don, Fred and Becki.

During Bob's adult years he was on the White Tail Golf board, served on the local school board, the Legislature, and in 1991 was appointed to the Montana Board of Housing where he served for 16 years, 14 of which he was chairman. He was successful in moving the monthly meetings from Helena to communities all over the state increasing the exposure of what was available in home financing.

When Bob turned 21, he was invited to join the Masonic Order in Stevensville and served as Master of the Lodge three times and was the Worthy Patron for the Eastern Star. He earned his 33rd degree in Scottish Rite and was appointed Personal Representative of Western Montana. He was one of the founders for a children's language clinic located on the university campus, which was sponsored by the Scottish Rite Order. On June 29, 2001, Robert J. Thomas was elected a member of the Masonic Hall of Fame and his name ascribed on the rolls. Bob was a member of the Bagdad Shrine.

His interest in conservative politics is well known as he was on the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee for many years concluding this past year. He was one of the founders of the North Valley Pachyderm Club, the educational extension of the Republican Party and received the "Tough Tusk Award" from the National Federation of the Grand Order of Pachyderm Clubs on Oct.  21, 2005. When an election year arrived he became really enthusiastic preparing his pickup with candidate signs for the Creamery Picnic Parade and other parade  events. He, and his crew of highly motivated friends with similar interest, would set off placing signs as if it were the first day of hunting or fishing.

On March 29, 1986, Bob married the former local pharmacist Willard Scott's sister, Jean, whom he met at the Scott wedding June 19, 1949, at the local Methodist Church.

Both of them became involved in the local, state and national garden clubs. With Bob's building skills he would create the containers and sculptures she used for floral designs. Jean has been his 24 hour caregiver for the past 10 months with 12 hours a week of Nightingale Home Health from a most caring William Brinkman.

If Bob would be awarded an all expense tour to anyplace, it would surely be Camp Tuffit at Lake Mary Ronan.

The Pall Bearers will be his grandchildren Eric, Tyler, Marcus, Scott, Joe and Jessi. Ryan, Patrik and Allison will not be able to attend. He has five great-grandchildren.

Two of his nieces, Janice Stroud of Victor and Eloie Jeter of Stevensville, have been faithful with their visits and their beautiful garden flowers.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial may be given to the St. Stephens Episcopal Church Outreach Program at 203 Main St./P.O. Box 35, Stevensville, MT 59870.

Rev. Steve Oreskovich will conduct the services followed by a Masonic  remembrance beginning at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the St. Mary's Catholic Church, W. Fourth Street, Stevensville with the reception following at the Family Center. Internment will be at the Riverside Cemetery in Stevensville after the reception.

Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/local/obituaries/article_72a8f338-e78a-11e0-a793-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1Yz1liHsL

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Lilya McAlister
   Posted Sun September 25, 2011
Dear Jean and Family, Even though I only met you and Bob 5 years ago, I feel like we have been friends a long time. I adored Bob. He was always so kind to me. When I first started volunteering in Ravalli County local politics, he was always there to answer my many questions. He taught me many things. He will be missed. Love you, Lilya

John Barrows
   Posted Sun September 25, 2011
Dear Jean and Family,
Roberta and I join in giving our condolences on your loss. Bob was a wonderful friend and Masonic Brother, and he will be deeply missed. We so enjoyed your trips to Dillon for the flower shows, and our little projects for Scottish Rite!
Especially during the time we lived in the Bitterroot, Bob was a special friend and mentor (even if he was a Republican!) who advice I personally cherished.
John and Roberta Barrows

Alan Kelley
   Posted Mon September 26, 2011
Our deepest sympathies to all of the family.
Alan and Janice Kelley

James Teslow
   Posted Mon September 26, 2011
I am so sorry to hear of Bobs passing. We will miss him.
Jim, James, and Danielle Teslow

Bruce and Amber Brensdal
   Posted Tue September 27, 2011
Jean and Family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Bob was truly one of the model figures in our lives and spending time with both of you while he was on the Board of Housing was something we always looked forward too. Knowing he is at peace is comforting to us but we will miss him a lot. Bruce, Amber, Logan and Jett

Maureen Rude
   Posted Tue September 27, 2011
Jean and family, I am so sorry to hear about Bob's passing, but comforted to know he is at peace and out of any pain. I always think of Bob as an "extra father" that I was so blessed to have in my life. He gave so much of himself to others and especially to those of us who were able to see a man who put words into action. Love, Maureen

Jeannene Maas
   Posted Tue September 27, 2011
Jean and family: My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Some people have a great impact on our lives, even though we haven't spent a huge amount of time with them - - - Bob was such a man. His leadership at MBOH was wonderful, sharing his knowledge and insight with so many (not to mention those chocolate chip cookies!) I will miss our chats at Camp Tuffit, too. Jeannene Maas

Penny Cope
   Posted Tue September 27, 2011
Jean and family, I am sorry to hear of your loss. Bob was a large presence in his role as Chairman of the Montana Board of Housing and his name is heard often in discussions about MBOH accomplishments. It was an honor to know him. With fond memories, Penny Cope

Robert J. Savage
   Posted Tue September 27, 2011
Jean and Family:

I was so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. He was truly a visionary whose legacy is the tens of thousands of Montanans who have homes to live in. I remember all of the good times at our many meetings across the state of Montana and Washington, D.C. with the Montana Board of Housing. Bob will be greatly missed but joyfully remembered.

Bob Savage

Michael McCullough
   Posted Wed September 28, 2011
I first met Bob while serving as State President of Pachyderm clubs. During that period we established new two clubs in the Bitterroot Valley. Bob was very instrumental in helping to successfully establish the North Valley club. He was a fine man and will be missed.
God bless him and the Thomas family.

Michael McCullough-Missoula

Shirley Thomas Harryman
   Posted Thu September 29, 2011
I remember Bob fondly from the years of going to the Bitterroot when we were children with my parents Ed and Lena Thomas and grandparents Florence and Bart Thomas. Bob always kept in touch with my folks over the years. I have happy memories of a family reunion of most of the Thomas cousins held in Stevensville at the Thomas home in the early 90's. I remember him with affection.

Shirley Thomas Harryman, Kalispell

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