James Varnum Thomas, husband of Priscilla Ann (Lynde) Thomas, died on May 25, 2021, at the age of 85. A lifelong resident of Middleborough, he was born there on September 5, 1935. James was the son of the late Clyde Stetson Thomas and Cora Louise (Staples) Clough Thomas.
A 1953 graduate of Memorial High School in Middleborough and Wilbraham (MA) Academy in 1954, he also attended Brown University, the Aetna Insurance School in Hartford, CT and Northeast Broadcast School in Boston. From 1956-58, Mr. Thomas was a soldier in the 8th Infantry Division, 28th Infantry Regiment stationed in Heilbron, Germany. After his six-year military commitment he was honorably discharged in 1962. For many years, Mr. Thomas was employed as a licensed broker in the insurance agency established by his father. He also worked as a machine operator for Ocean Spray Cranberries and shipper-receiver for the Talbots Company.
Mr. Thomas was a passionate community servant of the town he loved and served in several elected positions during his lifetime: Deacon of Central Congregational Church; The Charter Committee; School Committee; and two terms as Town Moderator, first in the 1970s and again in the 2000s. In 2007, he presided over the largest open Town Meeting ever recorded. In the late 1970s, he co-founded and published The Nemasket River Journal, whose opinion pages espoused his beliefs of a free press, the power of the individual, and transparency and accountability in limited representative government. "Never issue a criticism without foundation," he noted, "or without having offered a solution."
Mr. Thomas was an accomplished bridge player who attained a Life Master designation from the American Contract Bridge League. In other personal pursuits, he was an avid reader, sports enthusiast, aficionado of the Great American Songbook, and an amateur musician who participated in local musical reviews. He was the original bass drummer for the Middleborough Chowder & Marching Society.
James is survived by his wife Priscilla; oldest son Matthew S. Thomas and daughter-in-law Susannah J. Thomas of Midland, Michigan; daughter Courtney A. Yeskewicz and son-in-law James J. Yeskewicz of Middleborough; youngest son Andrew V. Thomas of Middleborough; grandsons Noah and Ian Yeskewicz, both of Middleborough; and granddaughter Marin Thomas of Midland. He also leaves his sister, Deborah Danforth, sister-in-law Nancy Thomas, and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are private.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Lung Association, 55 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150, Chicago, IL 60601, or at www.lung.org
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American Lung Association
55 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150, Chicago IL 60601