American Veteran 01

Mr. Thomas Vinson, Jr.

October 22, 1936 ~ April 23, 2021 (age 84)


Thomas Vinson, Jr.: Resolute Beginnings

On October 22, 1936, Cleo Vinson and Thomas Vinson, Sr. anxiously awaited the birth of their firstborn Thomas Vinson, Jr., in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Affectionately nicknamed Bobby by his family, his maternal grandparents (Willie and Eula Jones) also shaped and influenced him. Cleo planted her resolute, unbowed, stubborn spirit and strong work ethic in Thomas Jr., which he demonstrated--without apology!--his entire life. Bobby was what the old folks called a “wise egg” who came on the scene with great focus and maturity, and he took his role of big brother to his four younger brothers quite seriously. When asked about his childhood, Bobby would tell his children how hard it was, including how he had to feed and change his younger brothers’ diapers when Bobby was just 5 years old while his parents worked. He always made sure to remind us that they ALL survived. Indeed, despite their humble beginnings, it must be said that Bobby and his family THRIVED. With a gleam in his eye, Bobby would proudly recall how he and his brother J. Billy, saved money to purchase their first car when he was only sixteen. Bobby would be found “shining on it” before he went for a ride in the country, oftentimes waiving at his wealthier peers who used to laugh at his re-soled shoes and lovingly patched-up broughams. Ironically, they were the same peers who begged to come over his house to watch the first TV set in their rural neighborhood, which his mother Cleo purchased by requiring her sons to give her 75% of each dollar they earned while they kept a quarter. This sacrifice set the framework for Bobby’s adulthood and beyond.

Thomas and Jo

Upon Thomas’ graduation from Dillard High School in 1955, he relocated to Buffalo, New York, to utilize his bricklaying skills for various construction companies. While there, he met Josephine (Jo), a pretty, no-nonsense woman with long, silky hair and a mean walk. Jo captivated Thomas so, that he put a ring on it! During their first years of marriage, Thomas enlisted in the United States Army while his bride stayed with family. Upon his honorable discharge, they decided to relocate to Evanston, Illinois, in search of a place with greater job opportunities. Thomas faithfully worked at Active Service Corporation with approximately 37 years of dedicated service. He and Josephine grew their family roots in Evanston as well; first with the birth of Derrick, Thomas’ firstborn and only son, and his twin daughters, Phyllisina (Phyllis) and Tina.

Service and Legacy

One of the first things Thomas and Josephine did when they settled in Evanston was join Springfield Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Reverend L.M. Geter. Under his direction, Thomas served as a faithful trustee, which suited him perfectly given his stern demeanor and excellent mental math skills. Of course, it did not take too long for Springfield to learn that Thomas could sing! With his smooth, melodic tenor voice, Thomas faithfully sang with the Male Chorus and Gospel Chorus at Springfield. Thomas passed his love for singing down to his three children, first by exposing them to quartet singing through the Heavenly Seekers (a quartet group he co-founded), and later by organizing the Vinson Trio with Derrick playing the organ/piano.

Family FIRST

Thomas was so proud of his family! He loved attending gospel events where his son Derrick was a featured organist or soloist, having Phyllis his attorney daughter answer legal questions and discuss current events, and listening to Tina his medical doctor daughter explain and answer certain medical and health questions. But arguably, the greatest joy Thomas experienced was when he became a grandfather. Thomas spent quality time with his first grandchild Kennedy, whom he called his baby, and grandsons Shane and Patrick, whom he called his boys. Thomas made sure to tell them about his family so they wouldn’t forget what he had experienced and what the elders had taught him.

Honor and Remembrance

Thomas Vinson, Jr. is celebrated by his devoted wife Josephine of over 60 years; she was his loving caretaker as his health waned, and did so without any hesitation or complaints. Additionally, he is loved and remembered by his children Derrick, Phyllis and Tina Vinson; three grandchildren (Kennedy Leslie, and twins Shane and Patrick Vinson); beloved brothers Willie Vinson (Johnnie Mae), Earl Vinson (Lillie A.) and James Vinson (Lillie), and sisters-in law Rachel Vinson (widow) and Dorothy Thompson. Thomas is preceded in death by his brother J. Billy Vinson. Finally, Thomas’ memory is cherished by a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, family members, church family, military veterans and friends. Order of Events Presentation by Pallbearers Funeral Honors for Deceased Veterans of Military Service Scripture (Psalm 23) and Prayer Dr. Emmitt T. Williams, III Senior Pastor, Springfield Missionary Baptist Church. Please keep the family in your prayers, obituary will be posted at a later time. Graveside service private invitation only.

Arrangements entrusted to Thompson Funeral & Cremation Services, Inc. Mr. Philip L. Gillette ~ Funeral Director

Due to Covid-19 we ask that while attending services that you please wear your mask and remember to social distance.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mr. Thomas Vinson, Jr., please visit our floral store.


April 28, 2021

1:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Thompson Funeral & Cremation Services, Inc.
1917 Asbury Ave
Evanston, IL 60201

Video is available for this event

Graveside Service
April 29, 2021

10:00 AM
Memorial Park
9900 Gross Point Road
Skokie, IL 60076

Please note
Graveside service private invitation only.
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