Russell Thomas

November 14, 1955 - March 11, 2016
Harrison Twp, MI



Friday, March 18, 2016
2:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
(734) 525-9020
Driving Directions


Saturday, March 19, 2016
11:30 AM EDT
Glen Eden Lutheran Memorial Park
35667 8 Mile Road
Livonia, MI 48152


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

American Cancer Society
1400 West Milham Avenue
Portage, MI 49024
(269) 349-8719
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


All who knew Russell Thomas would agree that he brought the world around him to life. He was fun-loving, a true character, and a bustle of activity with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Russ was a devoted father who loved being surrounded by his family and friends. Generous beyond measure, he was always looking for ways that he could help others in ways both great and small. Although he will be deeply missed, Russ leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.

It seems only fitting that Russell’s journey began during a time that was as colorful as he was. It was the 1950s when televisions were becoming part of our homes, introducing us to shows like I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best, which challenged the way we viewed the traditional American family. This was also when James Dean dominated the silver screen and Elvis Presley became a household name. It was as winter appeared on the horizon, in November of 1955, that Richard and Shirley Thomas were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over on November 14th when the baby boy they named Russell Elden drew his first breath in William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was one of five Thomas children to be raised in the family home in Livonia, joining his siblings, Karen, Nancy, Janet, and Rick in the busy Thomas family. To support their family, Russ’ father was a pattern maker at General Motors while his mother was a secretary at Diamond Automation.

In many ways, Russ was a young boy of his generation. He enjoyed things like water skiing and skeet shooting. Russ had quite the afro, but he did agree to cut it off. The beauty of that was that cutting his afro also meant that his father had to hold up his end of the bargain - buying a yellow ski boat! Russ attended local schools, played a little football, enjoyed snowmobiling, and also played soccer. He graduated from high school, although he hated school, and was also awarded with a soccer scholarship at Schoolcraft College.

Not to be forgotten during Russ’ years as a young man was his introduction to the woman who would change the course of his life forever. Her name was Debra (Butler) Thomas, and they met in 1974. They were married in June of 1976 for 26 years. Although they later divorced, he was forever grateful for the children they shared together, Scott, Paul, Christopher, and Robert. He cherished coaching his boys in little league football and traveling the Midwest and Canada for his son's hockey tournaments. He really enjoyed their annual summer trips to Intermediate Lake. Throughout his life Russ worked as president at Ernest Industries and later moved into independent auto parts sales.

New and exciting changes were in store for Russ when he met his true soul mate. Her name was Kathy Moran, and they met at the Free Friday fun at the Grand Prix. Russ and Kathy were two peas in a pod who loved having a good time. One of their favorite pastimes was to drive up to Lake St. Clair to make the rounds of their “one and done” adventures. This was always a fun time when Russ and his fiancĂ© started at a tavern, had one drink, and then moved on to the next tavern, therefore earning the name of “one and done.” Russ and Kathy were affectionately referred to as Bon Jovi and Janis Joplin. They loved celebrating St Patrick's day together, Tigers opening day, boat races, Aquapalooza, Raft Off, Jobbie Nooner, Put-in-Bay, and spent nearly every Friday on the boat in the summer. Russ treated Kathy's sons, Michael and Justin, as though they were his own.

Even in his free time, Russ was always on the go. He loved taking cruises, road trips to Blue Mountain, visiting Florida, and spending time on the water at the cottage. Russ always loved boating and was a sports fan who liked attending Detroit sports events as he was a fan of the Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings. Russ was a Michigan State fan as well, especially when it came to football and basketball. He was a member of the Elks, did some bowling, and was commissioner of the annual pig roast at Coaches Corner. Russ even did marathon running, which was also known as 5ks with new white shoes!

With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Russell Thomas lived each moment to the fullest, taking nothing for granted. He was always on the go and the first one to help anyone at any time. Russ had the most amazing sense of humor and was sure that everyone around him had as much fun as he did. He will never be forgotten.

Russell Elden Thomas passed away March 11. Preceded in death by his father Richard & Uncle Bob. Dearest son of Shirley. Beloved father of Scott, Paul (Vanessa), Christopher, Robert (Nikki). Cherished Grandfather of Cole, Grant, & Sloane. Dearest brother of Karen (Wayne), Nancy (Dan), Janet (Von), & Richard (Diane). Loving fiancé of Kathy Moran. Family will receive friends Friday from 2-7 PM at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman). A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, 11:30 AM at Glen Eden Lutheran Memorial Park. At the request of Russ, please attend in your sports attire (Detroit Lions preferred) instead of formal dress. In lieu of flowers family suggest donations be made to The American Cancer Society. To share a favorite memory and/or photo and to sign the online guestbook, please visit http://www.turowskilifestory.com