Gary L. Thomas, 75, of Galesburg, died peacefully at home at 8:21 p.m. Friday, October 8, 2021.
Gary was born June 28, 1946 in Spring Valley, the son of William Merle and Mabel Marie (Schmitt) Thomas. After graduating from Toulon High School in 1964 he went to work at Caterpillar. He joined the US Coast Guard in 1966. Gary met Karen Marie Schroeder and they were married on February 22, 1969 in Gales burg. Seeking a better life for his family, Gary was hired on the Galesburg Police Department on January 1, 1972. He was honorably discharged from the Coast Guard in March 1972.
Gary is survived by his wife of 52 years, Karen; their daughter, Angie (Wayne) Niehaus of Pearl City and their son, Mark (Tricia) Thomas of Galesburg; his beloved four grandchildren, Kayla and Kyle Niehaus and Andrew and Luke Thomas; and his brother, Bill (Kathy) Thomas of Oquawka. Gary was preceded in death by his parents and his stepmother, Esther Thomas.
Achieving the rank of Lieutenant on the Police Department, Gary honorably retired with 27 years of dedicated service on April 16, 1999. Family always came first. The family traveled every year to many different locations throughout the US including a few very memorable trips to Florida with the Lewis family as well as numerous Marshall Family Reunions. Gary and Karen enjoyed many motorcycle trips traveling the Midwest. Aside from his family, Gary's other love was the Mississippi River. Nearly every weekend was spent in the summer going to Oquawka culminating in their current home on the banks of the Mississippi. Peace and tranquility can always be found near the water.
Gary was not a person who joined many organizations; however, he was a long-time member of the PB&PA, the AMVETS, and in years past, enjoyed Wednesday morning breakfast with the retirees from the police department.
Diabetes took a toll on his kidneys and Gary was afforded a new life after his longtime co-worker and friend Andy Tolle and his wife Janet bestowed the gift of one of Janet's kidneys to Gary in 2018. "Lefty" as the kidney was nicknamed performed flawlessly until the end. The loving and priceless gift of this kidney offered Gary and Karen the opportunity to begin traveling again, mostly with their best friends Gregg and Judie Lewis as well as spending the past few winters in Naples, FL with them.
Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at Watson Thomas Funeral Home and Crematory, Galesburg. Funeral service will be 11 a.m. Thursday, October 14, 2021 at the funeral home. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery, Galesburg. Memorials may be made to the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network. Please consider registering to be an organ and tissue donor, the life you save means the world to a family. Online expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at www.watsonthomas.com.