Thomas, James Birch 1939 - 2018 James Birch Thomas, a gifted writer, compassionate banker, and beloved husband and father, died Oct. 4, 2018, at his home in Estes Park, CO, after a long illness. He was 79. A man known for his quick wit and sense of humor, Jim was born in Mound City, MO, on March 26, 1939, the second son of Mary Elizabeth Birch and Bruce Henry Thomas. During World War II, Jim moved with his parents to Park Merced in San Francisco, while his father was at sea with the U.S. Navy. Following the war, the family moved, first to Kansas City (MO) and then to Omaha (NE), where Jim attended Central High School. A highlight of Jim's high school years was meeting the jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong after a concert at Omaha's Peony Park. A voracious reader, Jim showed an early talent for writing. Inspired by his mother's journalistic career at the Toledo [OH]-Times, Jim joined the staff of his school newspaper and later spent a summer working as a reporter for the Laramie Daily Boomerang in Wyoming. He matriculated at the University of Nebraska in the fall of 1957, and served as the president of his fraternity's (Beta Theta Pi) pledge class. At the beginning of his senior year, Jim travelled to Paris to study at the Alliance Français, an endeavor that was cut short by his mother's sudden death. It was during these years that he developed a lifelong love for the works of Mark Twain (particularly, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"), Herman Melville ("Moby Dick"), Willa Cather ("My Antoniá"), and William Shakespeare ("Hamlet"). After graduating with a BA degree in English in 1963, Jim switched gears, working briefly for the Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco before enrolling in law school. In 1965, he married Nancy E. Pickering of Scarsdale, NY, and earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Nebraska in 1967. After his graduation, the couple moved to New York, where Jim worked at the Corporation Trust Company. Jim and Nancy moved back to Nebraska in 1970, settling in Omaha where Jim practiced law for ten years. When his father became too ill to manage the family banking business, Jim moved his own family back to his birthplace to take over. The Exchange Bank of Mound City had been founded by Jim's great-grandfather in 1885; Jim was the fourth generation of the Thomas family to serve as bank president. He cared deeply about his employees, and, despite droughts and floods that ravaged Missouri crops over the next thirty years, Jim never once foreclosed on a farm. In Mound City, Jim was active in the Kiwanis Club and served as treasurer and president of the State Theater Board. After having summered at the YMCA of the Rockies for 25 years, Jim and Nancy purchased a summer home in Estes Park in 2000. When Jim retired from banking in 2007, the couple became full-time Estes residents. Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years; one son, Lawrence P. Thomas, of Estes Park and Mound City; daughters, Jennifer Thomas Gravois (Scott) and Wendy Thomas Russell (Charles) of Long Beach, CA; five grandchildren, and one great- grandchild. He is also survived by his brother, Lawrence Bruce Thomas (Jann) of Omaha; and two brothers-in-law, Dr. James H. Pickering (Patricia) of Estes Park and Rev. Thomas F. Pickering (Marilyn) of Lakeland, TN; nieces and nephews. In accordance with Jim's wishes, no funeral service will be held. Memorials in his honor can be made to the Mound City Public Library (207 E 6th St, Mound City, MO 64470); the State Theater Arts Council (P.O. Box 11, Mound City, MO 64470); Operation Jump Start (3515 Linden Ave., Long Beach, CA 90807); or the Estes Park Museum Friends & Foundation, Inc. (200 Fourth St., Estes Park, CO 80517). Please visit www.allnutt.com to leave a message for the family. Allnutt Funeral Services Estes Park, CO (970) 586-3101
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