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Fred Thomas of Benton Harbor, MI transitioned at home on January 28, 2018. Legacy farewell service will be Saturday at 204 S Fair Ave, Benton Harbor, MI at Robbins Brothers funeral Home, with visitation starting at 10:00 am and service beginning at 11:00 am.
On Sunday, January 28, 2018 our Father called His son Fred Thomas home at the age of 83.
Fred was the youngest child born to Houston Thomas and Augusta Merriweather in Covington, Tennessee on October 31, 1934. He moved to Portageville, Missouri as a young child. In his youth, he loved baseball. He was so good at it that he almost made it into the minor leagues before being deterred by life's circumstances. Chasing opportunity, Fred came to Michigan to work as a seasonal worker picking fruit as many African-Americans did in the 1950s and 60s. Since his dad had already moved up north, Fred decided to stay north as well.
As a young man, Fred married his first wife Laura and from that union came a son. After their divorce, he fathered a son and went on to marry his second wife, Wavie Reed and from that union came two daughters as well as four bonus children.
Fred accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior as a young man. For a time, he attended Unity Temple Church of God in Christ, pastored by Elder William Nichols and he later became a member at Reed Temple Church of God in Christ, pastored by the late Elder L. C. Reed, who was his father-in-law.
Upon his arrival from the South, Fred found work at a restaurant in St. Joseph, Mi. He was also employed at the Malabas factory in Benton Harbor, Mi until they closed their doors for good in the mid-1970s. However, Fred found his niche when he became manager of the Berrien Homes Laundromat. Fred's entrepreneurial spirit came shining through when he started a candy store/burger joint in his home. People still talk about how good his burgers were today. He later took the candy store idea to the laundromat and ran his own convenience store there. His popularity with the residents earned him the nickname, "Fred the Candyman". To this day, people still remember him from Berrien Homes and call him "The Candyman".
Fred was a charitable man. He employed some of the youth in Berrien Homes, giving many of them their first job. He also gave to many charities, national as well as local ones. Additionally, he was a hardworking man who took care of his family. Upon leaving Berrien Homes, he had a couple of short lived businesses selling barbecue, ice cream and other snacks, until he went back to his entrepreneurial beginnings of being the neighborhood candy store.
Fred finally retired from his love of selling candy and snacks in the early 2000s and settled into his role of being grandpa. His last 3 1/2 years afforded him a few health challenges, but he was lovingly taken care of by his youngest child Rona, who cared for him with God-given strength and grace until the very end.
Fred leaves to cherish his memory his children. Sons, Arthur Reed, Lynn Ware Jr. and Tony (Annette) Kinsey. Daughters, Johnita Reed, Lisa (Theodore) Batts and Rona (Toney) Randle. A host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, one great-grandchild, nieces, nephews and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Houston Thomas and Augusta Merriweather, his brother Merlin Thomas Sr., his sister Mary Carolyn Thomas, son Darryl Thomas, daughter Yedda Thomas and former wife Wavie Reed-Thomas