James Thomas Jr., beloved father, brother, uncle, and friend, of Franklin Park, New Jersey, departed this life on October 22, 2020. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he moved to Newark, New Jersey with his parents, at a very young age. He soon learned the importance of being a big brother when his sister, Marie, was born and the two of them were extremely protective of each other. Affectionately known as Jimmy and Jim, he would continue to be a positive force for his siblings and family for the rest of his life.
Jimmy was educated by the Newark Public Schools and graduated from Central High School in Essex County, New Jersey, where he received the nickname “Duster” because of his athleticism in Track and Field and in Basketball. He graduated from Fisk University, where he served on the school newspaper staff and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He went on to receive his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Golden Gate University and a Master of Human Resources Management (MHRM) degree from The George Washington University.
Jimmy was a teacher briefly before joining the United States Air Force, where he served in San Antonio, Texas, Thailand, and Victorville, California. He advanced to 2nd non-commissioned officer. After his service, Jimmy, his wife (Christine), and daughter (Adrienne) moved from California and settled in Norfolk, Virginia, where he worked as a manpower analyst for Presearch Logistics Co. While at the firm, Jimmy managed two separate multi-million dollar manpower contracts for the U.S. Government at Naval Station Norfolk and at Langley Air Force Base. He went on to work for the U.S. Defense Department assigned to Langley in Hampton, Virginia. When the family lived in Hampton, he was also a college professor at Saint Leo University. He was next assigned to Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee, where he and his wife lived and Jimmy was promoted to a senior level position responsible for logistic and operational support for the Navy Personnel Command, the Navy Recruiting Command, and the Navy Manpower Analysis Center. When he relocated to New Jersey, he was a professor for DeVry University until his retirement.
Jimmy was an outstanding provider for his family and a hero to his daughter, whom he continuously encouraged to excel academically, professionally, and civilly. His dedication and commitment to education was inspirational to his entire family. He was the first of his siblings to attend college and his three sisters (Marie, Evie, Juanita) followed and soared over the high bar he set. He also set an example of serving the community by supporting various organizations and volunteering for Hampton Special Olympics as a coach and Buddy.
Jimmy was preceded in death by his wife, Christine Elizabeth Marshall-Thomas; his parents, James Thomas Sr. and Mary Thomas (formerly Gaskin); and his sister Alexis Marie Walker (Walter). To cherish his memory, he leaves his daughter Adrienne Patrice Whitaker (formerly Marshall Thomas); his sisters, Dr. Evelyn Joyce Thomas and Juanita Ann Thomas Carroll (Antoine Carroll Sr., deceased), of Franklin Park, New Jersey, his brother in law, Rev. Walter P.V. Walker Sr., of North Carolina; and his nieces and nephews, Carlene Walker of Georgia, Walter P.V. Walker, Jr. of New Jersey, James Christopher Carroll of Franklin Park, New Jersey, and Octavia Cherise Walker of North Carolina.
The family express sincere appreciation to the Cranbury Center in Monroe Township, New Jersey, for the love, care, and support extended to Jimmy and the family during his residency. The family also express appreciation to the pastoral staff and members of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, New Jersey and First African Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. Acknowledgment and gratitude is expressed to Buckland Funeral Home of Somerville, New Jersey for the services and assistance provided to the family.
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