Darwin LaMar Thomas, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, teacher, and friend, passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on August 12, 2018 at age 84 in Spanish Fork, Utah after suffering a stroke the week prior.
Born on December 3, 1933 in Warm Springs (now Genola), Utah to the late David Bynon and Grace Rebecca Hartvigsen Thomas, Darwin grew up one of 11 children in a small adobe house on the family farm. He loved riding horses and hunting with his brothers in the foothills of the Loafer and Nebo Mountains. In high school he was named "most likely to take over the family farm."
Darwin left the farm to serve an LDS mission in Uruguay (where he was asked to open up missionary work in Peru) followed by two years in the Army (1956-58). When he returned he enrolled at Brigham Young University as a 25-year-old freshman. He also joined his ward choir, where he laid eyes on Beverly Morrison, the 20-year-old senior in vocal performance who was leading the choir. The two married on September 14, 1959, and as Darwin always said, Beverly "has been leading me ever since."
Darwin didn't return to the farm, but instead completed two degrees at BYU, and continued on to a PhD at the University of Minnesota, finishing in 1968. He began his career at Washington State University in Pullman, where he taught for four years, before taking a job at Brigham Young University as associate professor of sociology in 1972. He remained at BYU until he retired in 2002. During his career he served as director of the Family Research Institute and editor of the Family Prospective Journal, and was named to the Richard L. Evans Chair for Religious Understanding.
Darwin's education was the beginning of a lifelong love of learning. He was a voracious reader, always reading several books at a time, on everything from politics to religion to neuroscience to cosmology. If you were lucky, you were the recipient of one of his famous manila envelopes containing an article he had read recently he thought you might enjoy, or a letter telling you about his latest readings or personal experiences. His favorite book, however, always remained The Book of Mormon.
Darwin served in many capacities in the LDS church. He was a bishop, a counselor in a stake presidency, and president of the Colorado Denver North Mission from 1999 to 2002. He served as branch president and later district president at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He was ordained to the office of Patriarch in 2011, and gave over 500 patriarchal blessings in his seven years of service.
A dedicated patriarch over his own family, Darwin, along with Beverly, reared six children in their Spanish Fork log cabin home he built himself with only a rasp and hammer. Although he never took over the family farm in Genola, his farm boy work ethic and ability to "farmer" anything with some duct tape and bailing twine were his hallmarks to the end. Always doing, Darwin loved serving family and friends, and was famous for delivering his beloved wife's homemade peach pies (he picked and peeled the peaches; she made the pies) far and wide in late summer. His infectious, toothy grin and upbeat demeanor will be remarkably missed.
Darwin was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Bynon, Byron, Kenneth, and Lowell Thomas; and sisters Wanda Kelly, Marcia Roberts, and Phyllis Wright. Darwin is survived by his wife, Beverly; sons, Kim (Karlene) Thomas and David (Emily) Thomas; daughters, Suanne (Carl) Bowcut, Becky (Zachery) Poulter, Kristi (Jared) Frei, and Sara (Perry) Clegg; brothers, Douglas Thomas and Lynn Thomas; and sister Peggy Hunt, as well as 29 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
Friends and family are invited to attend the funeral service on Saturday, August 18 at 11 a.m. at the Spanish Fork Stake Center, 1006 East 200 South, Spanish Fork, Utah, 84660. Viewings will be held on Friday, August 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 18 from 9:30-10:30 a.m., both at the Spanish Fork Stake Center. To express condolences please visit LegacyFunerals.com.