OBITUARY: Brent Lee Thomas

Brent Lee Thomas, 52, of Newton crossed his final finish line on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. He died at home, surrounded by those he loved after a five-month battle with cancer.

Brent was born on Aug. 31, 1968, in Newton, to Jerry Max and Kay (O’Brien) Thomas. He attended Newton High School and graduated with honors in 1986. He then attended Northwest Kansas Area Vocational Technical School in Goodland, where he studied auto body repair. He started a long career in aircraft manufacturing at Beech Aircraft in 1989. In December 2006, he headed north to Fairbanks, Alaska to work for Alkan Shelters. He was there for four years, returning to the lower 48 in 2010 and resumed working for Beech. He was proud of his work as a Manufacturing Engineer and continued to work at Beech (Textron) until shortly before his death.

As a child, he was outgoing and inquisitive. He loved all things racing and started out racing BMX bikes at age 13. He moved on to go-carts before graduating to dirt track racing, which he enjoyed doing with his dad, Jerry. They bonded over racecars and dirt tracks, and Brent soon found his passion for fixing anything with wheels. If he didn’t know how to fix something, he’d figure it out and then teach the next guy how to do it, too. He never met a project he couldn’t finish. He had a need for speed and loved to hit the open road on his Harley with Cathy on the back.

Brent and Cathy travelled many miles, moving from Park City to Fairbanks, Alaska in 2006. From fishing, to hunting, to rafting, they had countless adventures exploring the state he loved so much. Brent would have stayed in Alaska forever, but he moved home with Cathy in 2010 to be closer to their family (and to keep his wife).

Brent loved being the crew chief for No. 65, Tyler Davis Racing. He spent most of his weekends over the last 10 years at the track, an experience he also loved sharing with his grandkids. He travelled all over the U.S. as a vital member of the pit crew and will be impossible to replace. He believed in Tyler and wanted so much to keep racing until the end.

Family meant everything to Brent. He was always there for anyone who needed him. He was proud of his children and grandchildren and would tell anyone about them that would listen. He shared three children with his first wife, Kandace Silvernale; a son, Justin Kater and two daughters, Maegan (Ray) Miles and Michelle (Derek) Embry, all of Newton. On Sept. 5, 2006, he married Cathy Kerr in Las Vegas, Nev. Together they shared two daughters, Kari (Cody) Cordell and Lauren (Oscar) Juarez, all of Tulsa, Okla. He loved all of his 11 grandkids, Cameron, Timothy, Guthry, Claire, Amya, Nora, Afton, Porter, Elliotte, Maliah, and Arlis. He was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the two newest grandkids, Max and Penny. His grandkids brought him so much joy and softened his tough guy exterior whenever they were around. They loved and respected their Papa Brent and learned so many valuable lessons from him.

Brent is survived by Cathy; five children; stepmother, Zella Thomas; two sisters, Tina Fowler and Teresa Driver; two brothers, Brad Thomas and Jerry (Gina) Gaede and so many more who loved him. He is also survived by his beloved bulldog, Fletcher.

He was preceded in death by his father, Jerry Thomas, and mother, Kay Thomas.

A service of celebration and remembrance of Brent’s life was at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 31, at Grace Community Church in Newton. It was livestreamed on the website and Facebook page of Grace Community Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to Caring Hands, in care of Petersen Funeral Home.

Arrangements are by Petersen Funeral Home, Newton.

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