DECATUR — Thomas Eugene Wilson, Jr., age 86 of Decatur, Alabama, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021. Brunch visitation is Saturday, October 16th, 11:30 a.m. at Roselawn Funeral Home in Decatur. His Celebration of Life will begin at 12:30 p.m. Pastor Herbert L. Brown of Greater Faith International Ministries in Varnville, South Carolina, will officiate. A full military honors burial will follow in Decatur City Cemetery. Friends and family will gather afterward for a backyard supper at his home of 60 years.
Thomas was preceded in death by his high school sweetheart and wife of 66 years, Dean Steenson Wilson; as well as his parents, Thomas and Lela, brother James and sister Dot.
He is survived by his son, Robert Eugene Wilson (Andrea Hoffmeier Wilson), granddaughters, Ann Wilson and Katherine Wilson, and their mother, Alison McCarty Wilson; as well as his daughter, Dena Crow (John), granddaughter, Christina Alvarado (Alex), grandson, Daniel Crow (Jayden), and brother-in-law, Bill Steenson.
A Decatur High School graduate, Thomas is remembered by friends as the most industrious of all his classmates. Delivering papers for The Decatur Daily, he worked with Raymond Steenson, later his father-in-law. Thomas eventually managed that paper route, while still in high school. After he and Dean married, Thomas joined the National Guard and was called up to active duty in the U.S Army.
Thomas served as a civil servant for decades at U.S. Army Missile Command, with Top Secret clearance. His career took him throughout the country, with frequent trips to the Pentagon. He received recognition throughout his career for his contributions, including a commendation for outstanding performance with the U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command.
In 1957, Thomas was initiated into the Free Masons. He and Dean raised their children in Central Baptist Church and were members of First Baptist Church Decatur in recent decades. They also supported international ministries, with a focus on missions to Nigeria. Thomas shared remarkable memories from the civil rights movement, especially a notable experience traveling with Dean to the 1963 March on Washington. He vividly recounted the countless tents, sea of humanity, and of course, “I have a dream”.
A consummate tinkerer and accomplished carpenter, electrician and craftsman, Thomas built clocks and furniture, repaired electronics, oversaw home additions, and operated a handyman business from his well-curated workshop. He also enjoyed building boat engines and rebuilding automobiles with his son, Rob. Father and son attended coin shows, building an impressive collection over the years.
Thomas enjoyed hunting and fishing. While he appreciated the abundant wildlife in his own backyard, squirrel control was a priority, defending his pecan harvest.
After his retirement in 1990, the Wilsons enjoyed traveling the world, dancing, and supporting ministries. Thomas also supported Dean with the American Business Women’s Association, which recognized him for Service Beyond the Call of Duty. Retirement gave him time to play golf and cards with friends.
Thomas enjoyed Alabama football, Atlanta Braves, military documentaries, and history programs, as well as reading every book in the Louis L’Amour series of Western novels. Thomas greatly appreciated Alabama Library Services for the Blind’s audio cartridges that allowed him to continue “reading” books. Other organizations serving the vision impaired impressed him, especially Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation.
Pallbearers include Garth Lindsay from First Baptist, Dennis Dawson, Hal Green, James McDonald, Don Moats, and Jason Steenson. Honorary Pallbearers include Johnny Atkins, Greg Hughes, John Lemley, and Bill Steenson.
In lieu of flower, Thomas had requested donations to be made to Greater Faith International Ministries, Joy Senior Adult Ministry at First Baptist, and Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation.