Julian Douglas Thomas Jr., known as “Buddy”, 91, of North Garden, Virginia returned home to his creator on December 7, 2023. He died peacefully in his home, right where he wanted to be.
Born on Temple Hill farm on Mechum’s River August 5, 1932, he was the son of Julian Douglas Thomas Sr. and Ruth Elizabeth Fulcher Thomas. They moved to Hollywood farm in Albemarle County off of Secretary Sand Road and later moved to Glen Falls in Albemarle County off of Red Hill Road. He attended Red Hill School and Lane High School and married Frances Louise Leathers in 1953. They enjoyed a beautiful marriage for 60 years.
He served in the Army as a military policeman during the Korean war and was stationed at Fort Monroe. Following his military service he worked in a variety of jobs including mail carrier, sales, heavy equipment operator and logger. He found his calling with the trees and worked for the Virginia Department of Forestry, succeeding his father as Chief Forest Warden before he went to work for a private forestry consulting service. Later he became President of the small firm; C&K Forestry. He was admired as an expert in the business and greatly enjoyed the multitude of connections and friends he made. He loved spending time in God’s creation and was an avid hunter and fisherman. In his last year, one of his favorite activities was fishing with his family. Known from childhood to old age for his mischief, sense of humor and fearlessness, he kept those who loved him on their toes. Buddy had a larger-than-life presence and a warmth that was contagious. He led with a smile and brightened every room he entered. There were simply no strangers in Buddy’s life.
Buddy was a man of towering Christian faith. He lived his faith through service to Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church where he served as lay leader, Sunday School teacher, choir member, men’s quartet, building and grounds committee chair and board member. Her served as a delegate to the United Methodist Conference on behalf of the Batesville (now Monaccan Trail Cooperative Parish) Charge for many many years. He found great comfort and pleasure in the music of his faith. He deeply appreciated musical talent and reveled in the music that surrounded him. His knowledge of scripture was unmatched. His living witness encouraged countless brothers and sisters in Christ and served as a light to many. He frequently said “We didn’t come here to stay” and left this world with a ready heart, eager to reunite with his Lord and Savior, loved ones and beloved friends.
The love for his family was second only to his love of God. He was loved dearly by his first wife Frances, his late companion Margaret Gentry and then blessed to find love again and married Joan Taylor Thomas in March of this year. His sister Virginia Houchens and late husband Jack, and brother Cameron and wife Wren Mills-Thomas loved him so much. His legacy is vast and includes children Laura Hall and late husband Dr. Jack Hirsch, Teresa Walker and husband Jim, Diane Turner, Julian “Jay” Douglas Thomas III and wife Cindy and Jennifer Hall and husband Yates. He was dearly loved by his grandchildren Sarah Hall and partner Ed DeMasters, Steven Hall, Seth Hall and wife Ali, Renae Schumann and husband David, Leslie Walker, James Walker and wife Courtney, Melanie Lambrecht and husband Seth, late grandson Jason Thomas, Amy Hunt and husband Corey, Tyler Thomas and wife Marion, Corey Turner and wife Danielle, Yates Thomas Hall and Elijah Bryant Hall. His great grandchildren will remember him for the joy in his face when they were nearby and include Allyssa Robinson, Sydney Birdsall, Gage Birdsall, Bryce Birdsall, Madelyn Green, Kayden Hall, Charli and Stone Brown, Katelyn Hall, Isaac Schumann, Alice Schumann, Walker Lambrecht, Connor Lambrecht, Ella Walker, Ranen Walker, Shelby Walker, Holden Walker, Grace Thomas, Emma Hunt, Eloise Thomas, Julian Thomas, Lacy Turner, Jolene Turner and Rowan Turner. In addition, he had a great-great grandson Zakery Harris. Nieces and nephews are many and span five generations. We would also like to acknowledge his wife Joan’s children James Cole, Kent Cole and wife Janine and Susan Wilson and husband Sam.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 16th at 10:00 AM at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church at 2500 Old Lynchburg Rd., Rev. Tim Worley presiding. In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations be made to one of the following:
Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church
All Blessings Flow- A faith based nonprofit organization which collects, refurbishes and redistribute used medical equipment to those in need.
Wounded Warrior Project in support of veterans with physical or mental injuries.
Hospice of the Piedmont
The family would like to thank and acknowledge several people who cared for Buddy so beautifully and made it possible for him to live independently and in accordance with his wishes in his last few years.
His beloved wife Joan, who cared for him tirelessly in his final weeks. She tended to his every need, prayed with and for him and provided the comfort that only a wife can give.
Dr. Bruce Campbell- his long-time primary care physician whom Buddy trusted, respected and loved. Dr. Campbell went above and beyond to provide care that aligned with his wishes and kept him out of the hospital for the last 15 months of his life.
Nancy Houchens- niece by marriage, care giver, pill box filler, IT support expert, chef, chauffeur, cheerleader, mischief partner and friend.
Hospice nurses Dan and Yvonne Harris and CNA Jackie who immediately connected with Buddy in a way that allowed him to openly receive compassionate and skilled care.