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Charming, kind, warm, witty, wise, lover-of-life James M. Thomsen was born in Sioux City, Iowa on July 8, 1924, and died at North Care Hospice House on December 2, 2021, at the age of 97. Jim’s parents’, Fred and Nora, had two other offspring: older brother Norman and Jim’s twin, Laura. Jim let himself be teased all his life about his short stature (around 5’6”), and his stock response was, “Well, I’m only half here. My sister Laura has the other half!”
Straight from the farm, as president of his high school class in Castana, Iowa, Jim began to develop his leadership skills and his people-pleasing personality; he held officer roles in the 4H Club and served as the state FFA vice president. Jim went on to graduate from Iowa State University where he was a member of Farmhouse fraternity and was active in campus agriculture clubs and wrote for the student newspaper.
His college days were interrupted, however, by his Navy service on board the USS Salamaua in the South Pacific during WWII. Jim was the ship’s mail carrier, a perfect fit for a guy who - we all know - never met a stranger, and who could happily blab ‘till the cows came home, or the war was over. Jim was immensely proud of his military service and always loyally supported veterans, most recently as a successful poppy salesperson for American Legion Post 626.
Jim received an Honorable Discharge in 1946 and returned to Iowa State, where he met the love of his life, Bonnie, and they were married July 24, 1949. The couple lived in Carroll, Iowa where their children Jocelyn and John were born, and later moved to Kansas City when Jim was promoted to the Farmland Industries headquarters. Though Jim was then working his way up the ladder at Farmland, there was always community and family time; Jim was by son John’s side for every step towards Eagle Scout, and he never missed mixing batter with Jocelyn at a father-daughter pancake breakfast.
Most of Jim’s 30-year career at Farmland was spent in public relations, where he was the face of the company, known as “Mr. Farmland” – Farmland’s goodwill ambassador. Jim hosted thousands of visitors from around the globe – ranging from foreign dignitaries to busloads of midwestern farmers. As spokesperson for Farmland and as proud Kansas City tour guide, Jim was one of those people who loved his job, and he also loved the many life-long friends from his Farmland family. In recent days, Jim’s own family cherished a Farmland Memories Facebook page full of Jim-stories and well wishes from so many long-ago coworkers.
When Jim retired from the Farmland stage, he moved on to the American Royal stage where he was an enthusiastic volunteer. Jim welcomed visitors and directed them to the llamas, but the role of his lifetime was as the cowboy-hatted MC for Jasper P. Swineherd, an animatronic, talking, six-foot tall – well, pig. Jim loved making the impressed kids giggle, thrilling all ages with Jasper’s wit and wisdom. In 2010 he was presented with the American Royal Lifetime Achievement award and named Honorary Governor of the American Royal for his thirty years as a volunteer.
In 2010, the Honor Flight program recognized Jim’s military service when they flew him, son John, and a plane-full of other senior veterans to Washington DC. They enjoyed a tour of the capital and a special day of tribute; Jim said he never felt the words “Thank you for your service” so deeply expressed.
Jim and Bonnie loved to travel and visited all fifty states along with Europe, Scandinavia, “Down Under,” and plenty of tropical islands. The couple also enjoyed the luxury of leaving snowy Kansas City winters as regular “Snowbirds” in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Jim enjoyed swimming, barbequing, growing tomatoes in his back yard - and he loved a good parade. Jim also played bridge up until the last weeks of his life. While Bonnie was a bridge champion, Jim was content to serve as dummy and just enjoy the company. He was an active member and Elder of Holy Cross Lutheran Church for sixty years; Jim continued to mix more pancake batter at the weekly, 6:00 AM Men’s Bible Breakfast well into his nineties.
Jim and Bonnie celebrated their 68th anniversary in 2017, the year Bonnie died and left Jim with a broken heart but with his steadfast optimism, bright outlook, and refusal to grumble intact (the grumble exception was the food at Linden Woods). Jim lived out his life as a member of the planet’s “oldest old” in dignity and happiness, and, yes, by continuing to make people smile.
Jim was crazy about his four grandsons and their partners, Patrick and Jordan Thomsen, of Albuquerque; Travis Thomsen and Morgan Cross, of Kansas City; Moebius Simmons, of Brooklyn; and Shane Silverstein, of Boston. He is also survived by son John and his wife Therese Thomsen, and daughter Jocelyn and her husband Jay Silverstein.
Services will be held on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, at Terrace Park Funeral Home, 801 NW 108th St., Kansas City, MO 64155. Visitation with family will begin at 10:00 AM, followed by funeral rites at 11:00 AM and burial at Terrace Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to American Legion Post 626, 7010 N. Cherry, Gladstone, MO 64118.
Jim wrote much of this obituary himself. In his chicken-scratch handwriting in one draft, he mused: “He loved his wife and family and treasured his many friends. It’s been a wonderful life.”
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
10:00 - 11:00am (Central time)
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
11:00 - 11:30am (Central time)
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