Charles Edward Thomas Jr., lifelong Cleveland area resident passed from this life on Sunday, January 22, 2017 at the Cleveland Area Hospital in Cleveland, Oklahoma at the age of eighty-four.
Charles was born on June 29, 1932 in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He was the son of Charles, Sr. and Elsie Mae Thomas. Charles was raised and attended school in Cleveland where he was a member of the Tiger Band; graduating from Cleveland High School with the Class of 1950. While attending school, Charles worked with his father and grandfather who owned and operated the Phillips 66 station, located in the Brilliant Bronze Building on North Broadway. Charles assisted in servicing automobiles, fueling, changing tires and general maintenance.
On the Monday following his high school graduation, Charles accepted a position in the yard at the local Johnson Oil Refinery. Charles was later promoted to tower had and worked in that capacity for several years until the downturn of the following World War II. After the refinery closed, Charles accepted employment for a short time with Dow Well in Hominy. The Johnson Refinery was later purchased by the Kerr-McGee Corporation and Charles returned to work at the refinery and continued there until the refinery closed. He then worked for a time on the construction of Oklahoma Highway 412, as the Keystone Dam was opened and a new road was needed as a result of the dam. Charles later owned and operated a pawn shop on Broadway in Cleveland for nearly two years before attending Cleat Training and becoming a deputy sheriff for Pawnee County in 1988; later becoming the Undersheriff for Leroy Bryant. In 1998, Charles relinquished his position as Under Sherriff to the late Sheriff Dwight Woodrell, Jr. At his retirement party, he laughed that it would take him nearly two years to get his wife's honey-do list accomplished and then he would do some fishing. In total, Charles spent nearly thirty-five years in law enforcement, including serving as a reserve officer for the Cleveland Police Department and the county. Reflecting upon his years in law enforcement, Thomas was quick to say that the toughest part of is job was "the children....the kids. Adults he could handle -- good, bad, whatever. The kids will break your heart."
During all of his time in Cleveland he was a valuable member of the Chapman Funeral Home family, assisting in all facets of running the ambulance service and helping with funeral services. His hobbies included hunting, fishing and telling stories. He spent countless hours with his sons running trotlines at Cleveland Lake. He also enjoyed taking care of his yard and planted a garden each year to provided fruits and vegetables for his neighbors. Charles enjoyed going to garage sales and flea markets and was an extremely effective negotiator. He had a large collection of Louis L'Amour novels that he enjoyed reading.
Charles is survived by his wife, Terry of the home, and a son, Michael T. Thomas of Avondale, Arizona. He was preceded in death by his parents, son Charles Louis Thomas and a sister Barbara Sue Thomas.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at the Chapel of the Chapman-Black Funeral Home on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 with Gene Black officiating. Burial will be at the Woodland Cemetery under the direction of the Chapman-Black Funeral Home. The family will gather to share memories and have dinner at the First Baptist Church immediately following the service.