DEARBORN, Mich. - Ernest "Jim" Thomas, 81, died peacefully at his home on June 11, 2014, surrounded by his family.
Ernest James Thomas, fondly known as Jim, was born in Ironwood on May 5, 1933. He spent his childhood in the U.P. and later graduated from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in business in 1955.
He moved to the Detroit area with a few friends to pursue employment. He met his future wife, Patricia McGowan, on a blind date, where they attended a Tigers game and stopped by the Gaelic League to listen to Irish music. Shortly after they began dating, Jim started working at Ford Motor Company, where he remained for 35 years. Jim and Pat were married on Aug. 1, 1959. For a short while they lived in Westland and later moved to Dearborn to accommodate their growing family.
His main priorities in life were his faith and family. He was active parishioner at Divine Child Catholic Church for 45 years. He is devoted to the Father Solanus Guild and The Right to Life of Michigan.
One of his favorite things to do was to visit his cottage in Traverse City and travel. His most recent trip was with Patricia and their daughter, Mary Jean, to enjoy a river cruise in Europe.
Ernest is survived by his beloved wife, Patricia; six dear children, James (JoHanna) Thomas, Anne (Peter) Veach, Mike (Tricia) Thomas, Ellen (Mike) Salter, Patti (Chuck) Fox and Mary Jean (David) Lawson; and 23 grandchildren, Liz, Evan, Aidan, Grant, Nicole, Brendan, Dominic, Erin, John Joe, Natalie, Anthony, Madison, Lauren, Michael, Shannon, Meghan, Brianna, Brittany, Ethan, Cullen, Emma, Holly and Hunter.
Visitation will be Sunday, June 15, from 4-8 p.m., and Monday, June 16, from 1-8 p.m., with a 7 p.m. rosary, at the John N. Santeiu & Son Funeral Home at 1139 N. Inkster Road in Garden City.
He will lie in state Tuesday, June 17, at 9 a.m., followed by the 9:30 Funeral Mass at the Church of the Divine Child at 1055 N. Silvery Lane in Dearborn.
The family suggests memorials to Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
For more information, visit santeiufuneralhome.com.