Leslie “Les” Thomas Sr. of Spruce passed away on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at MyMichigan Medical Center in Alpena. Les was born July 27, 1944 in Portland, Maine to John Carl and Louella (Ward) Thomas. The oldest of six brothers and sisters, Les grew up in Redford, MI, where he graduated from Thurston High School in 1963. He was a three-sport athlete in high school, lettering in Wrestling, Swimming and Football. In addition, he was an active member of the Schoolcraft DeMolay Chapter, where he eventually became Advisor. He joined the Masonic Lodge #654 in Morehead, Kentucky where he earned his 32nd degree. Les worked for Ford Motor Company until enlisting in the US Navy, where he served two tours in Vietnam as a Seabee--working to rebuild roads, schools, and churches until coming home in 1970. On June 19, 1971, he married Antoinette “Toni” Ballelli, and they eventually made their home with their three boys in Alcona County. Les found his passion for pottery and ceramics while studying at Alpena Community College, where he graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 1990. This love propelled him to start their small business, Thomas Meadow Farm Pottery Shop in Spruce where he specialized in pottery, ceramics, stained glass, Raku, and mosaic art. Besides his love of small farming and art, Les believed in the service of helping others. He joined the Alcona 4-H Council in 1984 and served in numerous roles in Alcona County 4-H for nearly 40 years. His love for art and passion for service allowed him to teach hundreds of students in various art forms through the years, hosting 4-H club meetings, volunteering at camps, as well as statewide and local community events. Les leaves behind Toni, his beloved wife of almost 52 years, as well as their sons Les (Christie) of Lincoln, Chris of Alpena, and Matt of Elkhart, IN; Brother John (Rhonda) of Mt. Sterling, KY and Sister, Claudette of M. Sterling, KY. He also leaves behind his beloved grandchildren Ellie and Ben, several nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and his recliner companion, Pookie. Les was preceded in death by his parents, as well as his brothers, Dr. Robert J, and Ruben “Frank”, sister Charlotte Earhart, and nephew Edward Earhart. Visitation will be Friday, May 12, 2023, from 4:00 until 8:00 PM at Gillies Funeral Home in Lincoln. Visitation will continue at the funeral home on Saturday, May 13, from 12:00 until the Masonic Service at 1:30 PM. The funeral service will begin at 2:00 PM. Burial will be in Pleasant View Cemetery in Spruce. In lieu of flowers, the family has decided to create a scholarship fund for graduating Alcona seniors who pursue the arts or human services fields.
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