Cover photo for Michael E. Thomas's Obituary
Michael E. Thomas Profile Photo
1957 Michael 2020

Michael E. Thomas

April 6, 1957 — June 1, 2020

Michael Eugene Thomas Jr. died before he could finish making a magic wand from an exotic piece of ebony wood. The first three he gifted to family members, and he likely would have made this one for "himself" and then given it away as well. A giving heart is how people will remember Michael, but it took a lifetime of living and learning for him to become the kind of man he always wanted to be. Michael was born in April 1957 at the old St. Mary's Hospital in Galesburg to Michael Eugene Thomas Sr. and Ellen Hix. Michael is survived by his parents, Ellen Hix Thomas and Mike and Teresa Thomas, all of Galesburg. Michael would spend most of his youth in Galesburg, traveling most summers to visit cousins in Lutz, Florida, with his grandmother, Mary Josephine Thomas, who preceded him in death many years ago. He attended Hitchcock Elementary, Churchill Junior High and Galesburg High School. Michael played trombone and enjoyed annoying teachers because of his high IQ and lack of desire to be bored in the typical classroom setting. He attended Roosevelt Military Academy for a short stint (like his father before him), and settled on joining the family business as a licensed pipefitter with UA Local 25 out of the Quad Cities, working in the nuclear power plants toward the end of his career. His marriage to Ellen K. Westerfield lasted long enough to see their three incredible children arrive on the scene and attain some age and wisdom. Michael doted on his children; feeling like he could have done better as a father early in their life, he shared great tidbits of understanding in their adult years where he felt they had better attention spans. He is survived by Rachel (Yi) Lee of Carbondale, Ryan (Lynn) Thomas of Chicago and Dr. Aaron (Jingyi Zhu) Thomas of Columbus, Ohio. Each of the three have the same intact sense of humor their father displayed on days ending in "Y." Michael was highly curious, which led him to become an avid reader and share his love of reading and learning with his children. His love for fiction, science fiction, history, cooking and non-fiction led him to read encyclopedias when his children were young for the fun of learning something they didn't know. As a child of the 1970s, Michael enjoyed the "hippie vibe" and maintained his love of music, long hair, free expression and the outdoors. He spent many hours in his passion to dig in the dirt and produce green things, as well as nature walks and motorcycle riding. Michael did Sturgis two years ago and drove The Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee last year to fulfill bucket list items. In 2007, Michael met and fell in love with the true love of his life, Mary J. Theesfeld. It was during these last 13 years that he gained the understanding of unconditional love and pure joy in doing the day-to-day, mundane living activities, as well as exploring places, meeting people, eating great food, drinking good booze, imbibing in vices and engaging with his children, family and friends in activities and conversations that supported his passions. He especially enjoyed time spent with Phillip and Lee Scarff and Dick and Sandy Hartman (distant cousins) and Animal (everyone needs a friend named Animal). Speaking of which, Michael also left behind in Mary's care his 11 fur and amphibian babies. Michael and Mary's first adopted fur babies were Raven and Merlin (black cats), on what would become an annual celebration of New Year's Eves spent at the Knox County Humane Society. Plus their other feline fur babies, Samhein, Bonnie, Loki and Lilly. Loki had a special liking to Michael and they would become inseparable. Savanah, Solomen, Cayenne and Amadeus, their tortoises, and Draco their bearded dragon. Also surviving Michael are his three siblings, Melissa (Dr. Pete) Kehoe of Galesburg, Kelly (Ron) Poyner of Galesburg and James Thomas, JT, of Tucson, Arizona. There are nieces, nephews and many cousins from the Thomas, Bragg, Hartman and Glasgow lineages. Michael was an avid student of Wiccan and loved and honored the traditions and rituals of Mother Earth. He was open to the ideas and ideals of religious freedoms; many discussions were had on the origin of what each religion celebrates today. A thank you to his Wiccan teacher Jeanette Gibson for sharing something with Michael that engaged his brain, his senses and his soul to understand that he truly mattered in the big and small schemes of life. Music was a must in his life, and his music choices were mostly the rock and roll he grew up with; however, he loved all music, including classical which played most days. Living in Oneida gave a perspective of country with enough city to call it home. Redoing his maternal grandfather's (John Erastus Hix) home, he created a mecca of flora and fauna. A Gia garden as well as a veggie garden take up most of the property, with heritage peonies that bloom in time for Memorial Day many years. He would love that they are in full bloom this week. Michael's heart opened wide these past years as he felt the love of a woman who would gift him 13 great years of living, loving and laughing. He engaged his children and family and created incredible works of art in the form of woodworking, ceramics, jewelry making and stained glass. He also loved canning and sharing of great foods, herbs and flowers grown in his gardens. He was a great listener during crisis and consternation and a wonderful adviser. The dysfunction that so many families endured in Michael's generation was a source of concern, however he is proof (not living proof, mind you), that people who chose to transform and awaken their inner WHO can do so when love enters their lives. Our family is so grateful to have gained a sister-in-law who gifted us all the quiet understanding that love of family is the most important gift we can share. No matter what stories we make up about what happens in our day-to-day lives, love trumps all. Michael E. Thomas Jr. died June 1, 2020, and will be sadly missed. As Michael did NOT want a visitation or funeral, he requested direct cremation, which Hurd-Hendricks Funeral Home in Knoxville has accommodated. The family will gather with appropriate social distancing, masking and a serious intention to celebrate his life, and perpetuate the sarcasm, shenanigans and laughter that he was known for and that we will carry forward in his memory. Donations may be made to the Knox County Humane Society. To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store. To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Michael E. Thomas please visit our Sympathy Store.
To send flowers to the family in memory of Michael E. Thomas, please visit our flower store.

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