THERESA, NY — Our beloved mother, grandmother (mamaw), sister, aunt, teacher, and friend, Karen Thomas entered into the gates of heaven on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the age of 68. She passed peacefully in her home surrounded by her family.
Born Dec. 14, 1951, in Watertown, a daughter of James D. Sr. and Phyllis (Kelsey) Whitmore, she graduated in 1970 from Indian River CSD. Karen went on to receive an associate’s degree from Jefferson Community College in 1972, and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1974 from Cornell University.
Karen was very involved in 4-H throughout her youth. She was crowned Jefferson County Dairy Princess for 1971-1972.
Karen married the love of her life, Joseph L. Thomas, in 1976 in Antwerp. Mr. Thomas passed away Aug. 6, 1988, after 11 wonderful years of marriage.
Karen selflessly devoted her career to teaching students the importance of home economics. Her teaching career began in 1974 in Sackets Harbor, and then in 1982 in the General Brown school district. The impact she made on the lives of her students was immeasurable. Karen would eventually retire in 2007 after 33 amazing years of changing lives and truly making a difference.
Karen was very involved in FHA now known as FCCLA ( Family Career and Community Leaders of America) throughout her teaching career and after retirement. She held many different titles including advisor, state officer trainer, and NYS coordinator during her 40 years of involvement with the organization. Karen was inducted into the Leadership Hall of Fame for FCCLA in July. She was also
a sister of a teachers’ sorority, Delta Kappa Gamma.
Above all else, the most important thing to Karen was family. She enjoyed attending her grandchildren’s many sporting events, as well as sewing, baking for her family, friends, and neighbors, and watching Hallmark movies.
She is survived by her daughter and son in-law, Amanda and Dennis Lynch of Theresa; her late husband’s son, Anthony (Kelly) Thomas of Herrings, Jay Thomas; her grandchildren, Alexis (Chris) Easter, Abigail Lynch (fiancé Matt Simpson), Alyson (Fred) Parker, Gabe Lynch, Kane Lynch; her great-grandchildren, Kinsley Parker, Brayden Parker; and two step-grandchildren, Garrett Thomas and Kylie Thomas; two brothers, Sterling Swartout (Janay) of California, and James Whitmore Jr. (Mindy) of Antwerp; a sister, Lonetta Swartout of Cooperstown; a brother-in-law Michael Thornton (Robin) of Ft Myers FL; as well as many nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her parents and a sister Jane Thornton.
A memorial service for Karen will be held 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9, at the Reed & Benoit Funeral Home, Watertown. Burial will follow the service in North Watertown Cemetery. Calling hours will be 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Reed & Benoit Funeral Home, Watertown.
Memorial contributions can be made to NYS FCCLA, Indian River ambulance squad or a charity of one’s choice.
Condolences may be made online at www.reedbenoit.com