Cover photo for Robert Lynn Thomas's Obituary
Robert Lynn Thomas Profile Photo
1924 Robert 2020

Robert Lynn Thomas

February 1, 1924 — June 1, 2020

Robert Lynn Thomas, 96, died on June 1, 2020, at Sunset Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Boonville. Robert was the third of four children born to William and Margaret (Jones) Thomas. Both of his parents were immigrants from Wales, United Kingdom, and became naturalized citizens. Robert was predeceased by his parents, and his siblings, William Stanley Thomas (1921), Russell W. Thomas (2002), and Florence Kelly, and her husband, Alfred (both 2008). He was also predeceased by his wife, Mary (Jameson) Thomas (1923-2014). Robert and Mary were married on June 19, 1948. They lost their youngest son, Steven Paul Thomas, at age 19 while Steven was hiking Mt. Marcy, New York’s highest peak, on April 12, 1976.

Robert is survived by his son, Robert L. Thomas Jr., of Remsen, NY; daughter, Marilyn T. Ireland, of Norwich, NY; beloved granddaughter, Brooke Ireland, and her husband, Caleb Schonfeld, of Freeville, NY. In December 2019, Robert was elated to learn of the August 2020 anticipated birth of Baby Schonfeld, his first great-grandchild. Also surviving are several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Robert received his education through the Utica City School District – the Roosevelt School and Utica Free Academy. In January 1943, Robert was inducted into the Army Air Corps and served during World War II as a small arms weapons mechanic. Having earned the rank of Sergeant, he was honorably discharged in November 1945. Robert was employed at Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co., in Utica, for over 30 years. He was a foreman in the quality control department at the time of his retirement. He enjoyed attending the annual Employee Appreciation clam bakes over the years.

Robert was very informed in how to live his life through participation in the Dale Carnegie Training. He was also shaped by his war years spent in Alaska. Robert had discovered healing in Nature. He and Mary began tent camping at numerous New York State Adirondack parks. In 1957, they purchased the Green Door, a tar paper shack with an outhouse, and began construction of their camp and eventual home on beautiful Kayuta Lake. It was here that Robert was able to enlist Nature to shape his life and that of his family and friends. The best days found him and his family on the beach sunning, swimming, canoeing, water skiing, and feasting. Robert had an elegant “Australian crawl.” Winter offered more opportunities, including his beauty in motion on his speed skates with hands behind his back at Val Bialis skating rink. Robert also possessed mechanical skills. He was the “go-to guy” to keep everyone in motion - from bikes, to cars, to boat motors. A garage was sacred space and mechanics were revered.

Robert and Mary enjoyed Winter retirement years at Silk Oak Lodge in Clearwater, FL. He also found spiritual comfort as a Christian steeped in the Protestant tradition. Robert enjoyed reading, writing, photography, and music. He was always at the ready with a knock-knock joke, quick with a smile, and easy with a grin. Robert enjoyed most recently riding his stationary bicycle, and had completed a trans-America distance on it from San Francisco to Boston.

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The family is grateful to the staff of Sunset nursing home for the excellent and compassionate care Robert received from all. A private burial will take place at Forest Hill Cemetery, in Utica. A celebration of Robert’s life will be held at a later date. Robert’s family asks those looking to honor his memory to please carry forward his lifelong legacy of helping others in any way that he could.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Lynn Thomas, please visit our flower store.


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