Cover photo for Richard Thoma's Obituary
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Richard Thoma

d. July 3, 2017

Richard Adamson Thoma, 88, left this world at 6:54 a.m. CDT on Friday, June 23, 2017. He was an honest, forthright and practical man with an appreciation for whimsy that tended toward the poetic. Many years ago when his young daughter asked him where we go when we die, he admitted he did not know but hypothesized that our souls might go on to become the stuff from which stars are born and shine brightly. Though we, his grieving family, cannot prove it with any degree of scientific certainty (as Richard would want us to), we are fairly confident that a new star began to shine brightly somewhere in our universe the moment he left us.

He had a thirst for science and applications of technology, particularly those that contribute to the betterment of our world and those who occupy it. He will continue to contribute to the greater good even in death. In accordance with his wishes, his beautiful blue eyes have been donated to Eversight Illinois (formerly Illinois Eye-Bank) and the rest of his body to the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois to be used for the purpose of training future generations of medical and health professionals at educational institutions throughout Illinois.

His penchant for logic was balanced by an appreciation for lyricism. We don’t know how he came to exercise love, kindness, compassion and a healthy sense of humor that tended toward the absurd as generously and dependably as he did—only that he did as if the logic of it was as evident as two being the sum of one plus one.  

We are sad to say that he did not achieve his lifelong dream of owning a bowler hat, however, he was a resounding success as a husband and father. For nearly sixty years, he was the beloved husband of Sylvia Teresa (nee Motylewski) Thoma, whom he lovingly referred to as his “rock”. That he chose to refer to her as an immovable object was no mistake, but rather one example of his limitless sense of humor. With this term of endearment he acknowledged her characteristic hard-headedness (which brilliantly balanced his soft-heartedness) and expressed his gratitude for her steadfast and loving presence in his life. Even as they were forced to live separately during his final months, she spent each day at his side, tirelessly caring for him.

When asked recently if he enjoyed being a father he replied that he felt he “was born for it”. His children, Ned (JoAnn Cihak), Mark (Alice Krampits) and Michelle Thoma-Culver (Sean Culver) whole-heartedly agree. He approached fatherhood as if it was a joyous adventure, and—thanks to him—it was for his children.

In addition to his wife and children, Richard is also survived by his cherished grandchildren, Adamson and Jordan, his beloved step-grandchildren, Jason and Joey, and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his dear sisters Hollis (Bob) Kucik, Bette (Russ) Suppiger and Ruth (Robert) Kneifel, their husbands, and his niece, Diane Friebus.

Richard exercised his love of science and technology in his profession as an engineer at Motorola, Inc. for nearly forty years. He started his career at Motorola in the communications sector as a production engineer and quickly moved to portable products where he contributed to the design of portable two-way radios that are credited with saving countless lives. He finished his career in component products where he designed crystal and crystal oscillators that are used today in virtually all electronic devices. 

A humble man, Richard would likely be embarrassed to read this, though we know he would be smiling heartily as he blushed through his discomfort of being acknowledged for the gift of his life. He often said that he was blessed. We, his family, believe that for every blessing he received, he gave at least three. And he asked for nothing in return for all he gave. We are grateful that he taught us to always support each other, especially when we most need help. It is what sustains now that we are without him.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations in Richard’s honor be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America or to the Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness.

Additional information about Richard can be viewed and shared at A celebration of his life will be scheduled at a later date.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard Thoma, please visit our flower store.


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