Robert Calvin “Bob” Thomas 86, of Winchester, California, died on February 2, 2020 in Whittier, California. Bob was born on July 4th 1933 in Neosho, Mo., the son of Nancy Thomas and Pleasant Earl Thomas.
Bob was born in the middle of the great depression which shaped much of his outlook on life and instilled a strong work ethic and sense of frugality. Bob had three sisters (Nancy, Elsie and Bette) and three brothers (his twin, William (Bill), Sonny and Larry). His family moved to Toppenish, Washington when he was a young boy and as a child in Toppenish he worked as a paperboy not to fill his pockets with some spending money, but to contribute to his household income. It was in Toppenish that he had many adventures with his beloved dog Jack.
Robert graduated from Toppenish High School in 1951 and attended Portland State University for a short time before being drafted. Later in life Robert attended Warner Pacific College and was an active/supportive alumni until recent years.
In 1955 Robert was drafted into the US Navy where he served until 1957, serving aboard the aircraft carriers USS Bon Homme Richard and USS Ticonderoga. Although he served for just two years this time produced many stories of his pal Don Tebbs and of port calls in Japan, Hong Kong, and Hawaii.
After his discharge Robert began working for the Continental Can Company in the business that defined his working life. If anyone ever asked Bob what he did his answer was simple – canmaker. Through his career he worked in many positions, from mechanic to foreman to plant manager, and several companies as the industry evolved.
Robert married Deloris Jean Orwick in 1959 and together they had four children: Marcella, Mark, Linda, and Timothy. The family moved many times over the years (starting in Oregon, then San Jose, Whittier, Seattle, Fort Worth, Piscataway, Columbus and back to Whittier in 1977). Robert remained in Southern California, making several short moves to Chino Hills, Menifee, and Alta Loma. Robert lovingly cared for his wife, Deloris, as she struggled with cancer treatment until her death in 2009.
In his retirement, Robert spent his time helping others, his children and grandchildren and his church family. He was always “on call” to help with any home project (he was an expert tiler), provide resources for church projects or help grandchildren with college expenses. Robert enjoyed attending church and singing in the choir. He met Opal Lawana Patrick at church and they were married in 2014 at which time Bob made his final move to Winchester, California joining the United Methodist Church there.
Robert will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He always had a story and a lesson for any who would listen. He taught his children to be critical thinkers, often to his own chagrin. He worked hard for his family, passing any spare time doing home repairs or remodeling. He always woke early.
Robert is survived by his twin brother, William and his younger brother, Sonny; his wife, Lawana; his children, Marcella Lamar (Claude), Mark (Kit), Linda Thomas (Alan Cohen) and Timothy (Beth); his grandchildren, Brian Lamar (Emily), James Lamar, Eric, Richard (Claire), Rachel, Aaron Cohen, Ethan Cohen, Joe and Maisy and by his great-granddaughter, Alexandra Lamar.
In lieu of flowers, you may donate to the WCUMC parking lot fund.
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