Barry Lynn Thomas, 65, of Bedford passed away on Saturday, July 16 surrounded by his family. He leaves behind his wife, Ann, daughter, Sarah, son Matthew, daughter in law, Kathryn Fisher, brother, Sherrill, a cat, Emma, a dog, Freckles, a herd of cattle, and a 1968 912 Porsche that is currently in its 32nd year of restoration - a project that will now be up to Sarah to finish. Barry was born and raised in Chamblissburg, VA where his mother, Mae and father, Carroll ran a store and diner, the Wakefield Inn. He was known for his sweet jump shot while playing for the Staunton River basketball team and later on in life boasted often that if the three point line had been around in the 1960s, he would have averaged over thirty points a game easily. Despite his ailing health in the last years of his life, his HORSE game was still strong. After graduating from Staunton River High School, Barry went on to earn his BA and MA from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. While attending Old Dominion he met his wife Ann, whom he married in 1977 after she called his boss and demanded that he be given time off for the wedding. Following a stint as an oil well engineer in Louisiana and Mississippi and weekends partying in New Orleans, he and Ann settled down in Thaxton, VA to start a family and began to farm and raise cattle. After helping to design one of the last nuclear reactors to be built in the United States, Barry transitioned to what would be his true calling in life. From 1989 till his retirement in 2013, he taught physics at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, VA. It was never too late in the night or he too busy to take a phone call from a struggling student. He spent his days teaching, his afternoons farming, and his nights grading labs while swigging Dr. Peppers, eating Texas Tavern chili, and watching the Late Show with David Letterman. In between, he found time to stage house wide pillow fights with Matt and Sarah while Ann was at work or exercise class and vacationed each summer with his family and friends at Almost Heaven cottage in Nags Head, NC. As the years of midlife crises approached, Barry turned increasingly towards hiking and backpacking. He loved racing up Sharp Top Mountain or loading up the car in the summer and driving cross country to the Rocky Mountains with his family and close friends. Per his wishes, his remains will be partially spread from the peaks of Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, WY - it will be up to Matt to haul him up his last mountain. A visitation was held on Saturday, July 23rd at Updike Funeral Home, 1140 W Lynchburg Salem Turnpike, Bedford, VA, from 1-3 pm followed by a memorial service at Clam Diggers Seafood, 109 S Bridge St, Bedford, VA, from 3-5 pm. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family asks that you donate to the National Park Foundation to help preserve our shared natural landscapes and protect North American wildlife. Arrangements are being handled by Updike Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Bedford.
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Updike Funeral Home & Cremation Service
1140 West Lynchburg Salem Turnpike
Bedford, VA 24523-1803
Published in Bedford Bulletin from July 27 to July 28, 2016