Robert J. Thomas
July 4, 1932 - January 28, 2019
The first Police Chief of Keizer, Oregon. Robert J. Thomas, age 86, passed away peacefully at his home with his family at his side on January 28, 2019.
Robert (Bob) was born in Mt. Angel, OR on July 4, 1932 to Lawrence and Clara (Schmitz) Thomas and had four sisters and one brother. Bob and his family moved to a farm in Silverton and had several jobs while growing up. He learned to plow behind a horse, bale hay, pick hops, raise pigs, cows and chickens, and had a newspaper route all before graduating high school in 1950. Bob joined the USAF at the beginning of the Korean War. He left home for Lackland AFB on his mother's birthday, August 8, 1950. He was stationed at ENT AFB in Colorado Springs, CO working as an A.P.E. (Air Police). That is where he met his future wife, Betty Lou Lang. They were married for 65 years, February 13, 1954.
Bob will always be remembered as a bright, shining light in the various communities and churches he served. He was most proud of being the first Police Chief of the newly organized city of Keizer. Previous to that he was Captain at the Marion County Sheriff's Office. He was a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus, Grand Knight at both the Salem 5060 Council and Keizer 10594, and 4th degree Assembly 900. Bob was a founding member of St. Edward's Catholic Church in Keizer, where he met Fr. Taaffe and together they started the Fr. Taaffe Foundation to support unwed mothers. He became a long term member of the board while Catholic Community Services took over the program. Bob enjoyed camping, hunting, fishing, and woodworking.
He was very proud of his children, Susan (Bill) Ridgway, Ron (Kim) Thomas, and Robert Jr II (Gina) Thomas, plus 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Melvin, and by two of his own children, Robert Jr and Brenda Lee.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, February 7, 2019, 10:30am at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Keizer with Fr. Gary officiating. Rosary will be at 10am. Reception to follow at the church hall. Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service is assisting the family.
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