Dewey Thames

Dewey Joseph Thames

1935 - 2024

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Everyone should be so lucky to have an "Uncle Joe" in their family. Joe Thames spent his life helping, caring and providing for others, and no one did it better. By his family's standards he was "Golden."  

Dewey Joseph Thames was born on September 15, 1935, in Wichita Falls, TX to Elsie Meyer Thames and Dewey Clinton Thames.  He was the 3rd child and only boy among 6 sisters.  His father worked in the oil fields, and oil workers always followed the oil. As a result, Joe's family migrated from one town to another while he was growing up. They first put down roots in Wichita Falls, then moved to Pep, TX. The family subsequently moved to Louisiana but returned to Texas and lived in numerous West Texas towns - Friendship, County Line-Abernathy, Plainview, Snyder and finally Lubbock.  

From an early age, Joe did whatever he could to help support his family. His meager income helped his parents make ends meet. He started driving a tractor at the age of ten. From that point on, he was always working. Although he was identified as a gifted student, his grades often took a backseat to his need to work. While attending junior high in Plainview, he scored extremely high on a scholastic aptitude test.  His teachers saw a gifted student who was sidetracked by his need to work. While living in Snyder, Joe was finally able to put down roots long enough to form close friendships. He played guard for the Snyder Tigers football team and became very close to his teammates and coach. Despite his busy schedule of football and school, he still found time to work at Piggly Wiggly as a sacker for 35 cents/hour.  

To his dismay, at the end of his sophomore year, Joe's family moved to Lubbock where he enrolled in Lubbock High School.  The family had no car, so he had to either catch an occasional ride with neighbors or walk over 8 miles to school each day. He eventually purchased a bike in order to make it easier to get to school. While a student at Lubbock High, he worked over 60 hours each week at Piggly Wiggly. This enabled him to purchase his first car, but his long hours at work also caused his grades to slip. The school pressured him to quit work, but his Distributive Education teacher advocated on his behalf with the school administrators. His teacher told them, "This kid gets no sleep!"  

Mack Godwyn, the store manager of Piggly Wiggly on 19th Street in Lubbock, had a big impact on Joe's young life. He saw a very driven, intelligent and hardworking young man who never complained. Joe had started as a sacker, then moved to checker, then stocker, and finally worked his way up to assistant manager. He encouraged Joe to enroll at Texas Tech after he graduated from high school. It seemed like an impossible dream. Getting through high school had been difficult enough and coming up with the $50/semester tuition would not be easy.  Mr. Godwyn gave Joe a 75 cent/hour raise to help defray his tuition cost. This allowed Joe to make it work. Working full-time, it took Joe 8 years to graduate from Tech. He became a lifelong Red Raider in the process. During his college years, Mack Godwyn offered Joe a manager's position at Piggly Wiggly, but Joe declined the promotion knowing it might prevent him from obtaining his college degree.   

While at Tech he also picked up recreational tennis. Joe did not hit the ball overhand but instead had a very distinct "side handed" swing. Word got out, and he soon found himself playing against several Tech tennis players on the weekends. After beating Tech's top tennis player several weeks in a row, the Tech tennis coach came to watch. He offered Joe a scholarship to play for Tech. Sadly, Joe was forced to turn down the offer since it would require him to give up his job at Piggly Wiggly. Due to his dad's poor health, his family still depended on Joe's financial support. Once again Joe put others ahead of himself. This would always be his established pattern in life. 

After he graduated with a retailing degree from Tech, Joe finally took the job as manager of the Piggly Wiggly on 19th street and at the same time served as asst manager at a second location. This started his pathway to a life-long career in the grocery business where he earned many awards and accolades. When Piggly Wiggly was purchased by Shop-Rite Corp, Shop-Rite was strongly encouraged to keep Joe on and give him any position he wanted.  Joe asked to be a buyer. He was then offered the position as head buyer in Shop Rite's central office in Grand Prairie. He developed an effective method of undercutting the prices of all Shop Rite's competitors on a weekly basis. 

Two years later, after purchasing a home in Arlington, he invited his parents to move in with him - and they did.  The following year his sister Martha moved in with her two young daughters, Cher and Tambre. In 1988, several years after his father died, Joe took a position with Federated Foods.  Later he relocated to Tyler to work as the head buyer in the corporate office for Brookshires. Once again, he invited his mother to move with him. His home in Tyler became the hub for family gatherings for many years.  He won numerous awards as he continued to excel at his work at all levels of the grocery business. The only perk Joe awarded himself throughout his busy life of working and providing for others was to play golf.  He became an avid weekend golfer while in Arlington and continued that love of golf in Tyler. 

Joe retired in 2020 and initially retired to live on Lake Palo Pinto. After several years of living away from family, he decided to move to Venus, TX in order to be closer to those he loved. 

Although Joe grew up a Democrat, in 1952, to the dismay of his family, he voted for Dwight Eisenhower. From then on, he consistently voted Republican. His family initially blamed Tech for turning Joe into a Republican. However, over the next 40 years, most of his family members followed suit. Joe loved Donald Trump. One of the last things he did before he left this world was to cast his vote for Trump in the Texas primary.  

Joe never met a dog he didn't like. Bear and Sassy were his long-term companions. They both could be snappy - and neither one particularly liked humans, but they both loved Joe. And he loved them; they were a top priority in his life. During the last few years of his life, Joe made friends with the birds and squirrels who visited his yard. Even a wild rooster would often stop by for an occasional visit, and he became friends with a small rabbit who made its home under his porch. He took great delight in all God's creatures. He was a true St. Frances at heart.  

Most importantly, Joe was a man of faith. He faithfully attended weekly Mass at St Jude’s Catholic parish, and then lived his faith throughout the week. He never had a harsh or mean word for anyone. He was even-tempered and happy, day in and day out. If you ever asked Joe how he was doing, his response was always the same, "I am doing great...just great!" He never complained about anything or anyone. Joe could fix anything by just saying Udin Udin! And Wala, it worked! 

If you came to Joe with a problem, he would look at you and say, “That’s your problem?” “That’s a bunch of Mickey Mouse, we can fix that! And he would. 

Although he has 31 nieces and nephews, his nieces, Cher Mauldin, Tambre Schellhammer, Benedict Uroda, and Luke Uroda were closest to his heart. He served as their surrogate father from an early age. Cher and Tambre spent their formative years growing up in his home. They called him "Uncle," but to them this meant "Dad." He always made sure all their needs were met. And throughout their lives Uncle was a second dad to Cher, Tambre, Benedict, and Luke. They in turn have been devoted to him their entire adult lives. Their hearts, homes, and families were always open to him, and he knew it. He relished their holiday gatherings. Other nieces and nephews who had a large and lasting impact on Joe's life were Greg Creamer, Frances Key and Dr. Mark Key, Cher's husband Jack, and Fred Ruggiero.  Joe carried an abundant love in his heart for each one of them. 

All his family members will attest that Joe was generous beyond his financial means. When anyone needed a hand up in life, Joe's hand was always open. He helped purchase "first cars," prom dresses, or if you just needed a place to live for a while, his door was always open.   More than a few nieces and nephews spent days, weeks and even months sleeping on a bed in his home. They came and stayed as long as they needed. No questions were asked. His welcome mat did not come with judgment, nor did he offer unwanted advice.  

Joe was always a devoted son to his parents and adored each one of his sisters, with whom he loved sharing morning coffee. Morning coffee has always been a really big deal in our family and Uncle held that special tradition his whole life. He was predeceased by his parents Elsie and Dewey Thames, his sisters Matilda Kemp and her husband Marshall, and Betty King and her husband Ray. He is survived by his sisters Pat Key (Paul), Sister Celiene Thames, Mary Alice Creamer (Gary) and Martha Uroda (Frank). He also is survived by 31 nieces and nephews, and many great nieces and nephews. 

Joe would tell you that his life was very blessed, but those who knew him and loved him would all agree that he was the real blessing in everyone's life. He was truly   "Golden" in every sense of the word and will be dearly missed by all. 


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Dewey Thames

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Dewey Thames

1935 - 2024

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