Funeral Thursday afternoon for GR couple in M-37 crash

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SPARTA, Mich. – A funeral for a Grand Rapids couple who had been married 63 years will take place Thursday in Sparta.

An obituary posted by the Hessel-Cheslek Funeral Home says “both passed away” following a May 31 auto accident where Old Alpine Avenue intersects M-37 in Alpine Township. Only one vehicle was involved in the noon-hour crash that occurred after the vehicle went off the road.  According to multiple media reports, Joyce Thomas died in the accident, and James Thomas was taken to a hospital in critical condition. The obituary indicates he later passed away. Both were 85.

According to the obituary, the Thomases were residents of the Maple Creek retirement home, and both were born in Indiana. They were married in Rochester, Indiana on June 20, 1954. The obituary also says:

“James was ordained and served for 60 years as a pastor in the EUB, and then the United Methodist church in parishes in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Arizona.”

The obituary says Joyce worked as a school teacher and helped James in the ministry.

The funeral is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Peace Lutheran Church in Sparta, with visitation from 3:30pm to 4:30pm, according to the obituary.

“In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations can be given to either the James F. and Joyce A. Thomas scholarship fund at Garrett Evangelical Theologic Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201 or to the Endowment fund at Peace Lutheran Church 1225 12 Mile Road NW, Sparta, MI 49345.”

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