Joseph James Thomas passed peacefully, surrounded by family, into the loving arms of Jesus on February 27, 2022 at Sanford Medical Center, Fargo, ND. Joe was born on April 25, 1939 the oldest of seven children of John and Rose (Senger) Thomas. It was on the family farm outside of Michigan, ND where the Thomas kids, along with their Senger cousins learned the values of unconditional love and hard work. Joe graduated from Michigan High School in 1957 and went on to earn a degree in Agriculture from North Dakota State University in 1962. He was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and it was across the street from the AGR house where he met his future wife Dona Rhines while working in the kitchen of her Kappa Delta sorority house. Following college, he entered the Navy. He was granted a last minute leave for a quick trip home to marry Dona in Michigan, ND on June, 13, 1964. Joe and Dona had three sons, Brian, Kenny, and Mike, and one daughter, Leah. During Joe’s career as an ag loan officer they moved throughout North Dakota making stops in Wahpeton, Bowbells, Rugby, Jamestown, Cooperstown, and ending up back in Wahpeton, with a brief time in Bad Axe, MI. During those years Joe built upon his lifelong love of John Deere tractors by establishing an extensive collection of toy tractors. It provided him both a hobby of attending farm toy shows, and nostalgia collecting the models of the tractors he drove on the family farm. There is a saying that God didn’t make everything green and gold, only the best things. This also applies to his other lifelong passion, Bison Football. As season ticket holders for 28 years, Joe and Dona were faithful attendees and made many memories with their long time tailgate group. Over the years Joe served with the Jaycees, American Legion, NDSU Teammakers, Kiwanis, Wahpeton school board, and Order of the Eastern Star. Joe loved to sing and was a member of the Alphean Male Chorus. He was proud of his Germans from Russia heritage and enjoyed taking classes to learn more about their history. Joe adored his grandkids and was always committed to traveling to attend their various activities. Joe is lovingly remembered by his wife, Dona, children Brian (Kim) Thomas of Columbus, NE, Kenny (Heather) Thomas, of Fargo, Mike Thomas, of Fargo, Leah (Travis) Oye of Carver, MN; his grandchildren Ashley, Josh, Dan, Skylar, Morgen, Airasen, Emerson, and James; 3 great-grandchildren; five siblings and their spouses, and numerous nieces and nephews. Joe was preceded in death by his parents John & Rose Thomas, sister Esther Kemp and grandsons Thomas Senger and Andrew Marvin. A prayer vigil will be held at Boulger Funeral Home on Monday, March 7th, 2022 at 7:00 pm. A funeral will be held at Nativity Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 8th at 2:00 pm, with a reception to follow for family and friends. To see a complete obituary, please visit the Boulger Funeral website. Joe's video tribute can be viewed below:

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  1. Leah and Travis, so sorry to hear such sad news. Joe was a great guy and I always enjoyed running into him around Wahpeton…we would discuss North Dakota politics. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. So sorry to hear this news, Leah and Travis. We will be praying for you and the whole extended family!

  3. Dear Dona and family, I am so sorry for your loss of an interesting and compassionate husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many. Blessing to all of you.

  4. So sorry for your loss. Many memories of the Thomas family, my best friend being one of them. He has left a legacy that can be treasured and remembered. Prayers for you and the entire family.

  5. Leah, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to visit with you. Thank you SO very much for your call.
    Your Dad was loved so much – the kindest person imaginable. May his memory honor his true goodness.
    We in RoughRiders Kiwanis will miss him so much!

  6. We are so very sorry for your loss! He was a fantastic man! We are so very thankful of all the times we got to spend with your parents! Uncle Joe was always so kind a patient in every scenario! He will be missed ! We will be watching the funeral on line. My prayers for your family as it seems we are all starting a bit of a new journey Uncle Joe is in the loving arms of the Lord and can rest. We love you all ! Prayers and hugs sending to you !

  7. My sympathy to all of Joe’s family. I was a member of Esther’s Michigan High School Class of 1962, and all of us admired all of the Thomas family. Such fond memories of their parents and Joe and all of the siblings. Joe’s obituary is a testament to his many contributions to family and community.
    Cheryl (Kjorsvik) Foster-Coghlan

  8. As a fellow County Supervisor from the former Farmers Home Administration, Joe was always serious about his job and was always pleasant to be around. We will miss his presence at our annual retirees picnic. We extend our condolance’s to Dona and family.

  9. Dona and family, so sorry to hear about Joe passing. I still remember when we went to Bowbells to visit you. You are in my thoughts and prayers

  10. Joe was such a wonderful man, kind beyond words, and a wonderful father. He will be missed for sure I know. Prayers for Dona and the rest of you as well. My deepest sympathies

  11. Dear Dona and family, I’m so very sorry for your loss. Joe was such a kind and knowledgeable person to work with. I really enjoyed getting to know him working together on the Foundation. He will be greatly missed. Keep your good memories close and take care.

  12. Kenny, Heather, and family:
    Our deepest sympathies on your loss.
    Hugs to you all and prayers for comfort.
    Love,
    Bryce, Sheree, and Skylar

  13. Sorry to hear of Joe’s death. He was always such a nice and friendly guy. I looked for him at Tail Gateing but didn’t find him. He must have been sick so didnt set up a tent.

  14. Dona and family,

    We are so sorry to learn of Joe’s passing. I appreciated him so much during his tenure on the school board. He was an excellent board member with an abundance of common sense. I also served in Kiwanis with Joe & he was a loyal and active member. One thing I still remember about Joe was the first time the Bison football team beat the Gophers at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. After the game we walked to an outdoor bar near the dome. There was a large crowd of people there. Mostly NDSU fans. I happened to look across the crowd, and there was Joe smiling ear to ear and hugging everyone, he was so happy. God bless Joe. Rest In Peace.

    Mike and Joni Connell
    Bozeman, Montana

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