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Thomas Ernest Jolas

Thomas Ernest Jolas

December 16, 1931 - August 19, 2019

Tom passed peacefully into the loving arms of our Lord and entered into the Kingdom of Heaven on August 19, 2019. Tom was born on December 16, 1931 and raised in Red Oak, Iowa where his parents owned a candy kitchen and restaurant. Tom was proud of his Greek heritage and told stories of the challenges and struggles his immigrant father had as an entrepreneur and businessman and of his young mother trying to raise young children in a new culture while trying to learn English. Tom did not allow his humble beginnings and his family's struggles to deter him from pursing the American dream and achieving great success. Growing up, Tom played football, ran track, was a lifeguard and water safety instructor and sang in the church and school choirs. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Iowa before moving to Mason City with his wife, Kalliope (Papantonis), whom he married before completing his final year of law school and to whom he was introduced on a weekend visit to Mason City by the Pappajohn brothers, who were fraternity brothers and were lifelong friends.

Tom lived a full and joyful life and was a man of extraordinary skill, talent, vision and faith, who loved his family and had a strong sense of community. A loving and caring father and grandfather, he provided encouragement, support, wisdom, advice and a gentle guiding hand to his children and grandchildren in the pursuit of their endeavors. His tireless work ethic and boundless optimism inspired his children and grandchildren to persevere in their goals. He was deeply proud of his family not only for their accomplishments, but in the people they had become. He will be missed dearly but his example survives as an inspiration.

Gregarious, good-natured and engaging, Tom loved people and participating in conversation, sharing thoughts and ideas and offering his counsel and advice. A terrific storyteller, Tom enjoyed regaling his audience, accenting his stories with humor and wit. He never tired of telling stories, which seemed to get better over time.

Tom cared deeply about, and was actively involved in, the community having served as mayor, president of the Mason City Development Association, chairman of the Mason City Economic Development Committee, chairman of the county compensation board, vice president of the North Iowa Hospital Center board, church board president, member of the state building code advisory board, assistant county attorney and as president and in leadership roles in numerous other community and civic organizations. He willingly and joyfully contributed his talent, energy and efforts toward making the community better.

Tom's main interest and focus was economic development and he was actively involved in recruiting businesses to the state and county. He was appointed by Governor Terry Branstad as the Deputy Director and Division Administrator of Iowa's Department of Economic Development. Governor Branstad also appointed him as a member of the Governor's Partnership for Economic Progress and to the Committee for Iowa's Future Growth. Tom was described as the “father of Iowa's strategic plan for economic growth” and authored the strategic plan outlining a comprehensive blueprint for the state's future economic growth. He also authored a document presenting new economic development concepts later enacted into law which he refined and implemented as the state's economic development programs.

Early in his career, Tom successfully lobbied and persuaded the US Department of Transportation to relocate Interstate 35 through the Mason City – Clear Lake area from its planned route further west. Thirty years later, he also successfully lobbied and persuaded the agency to relocate the Avenue of the Saints highway from its planned Rochester, Minnesota route through the Mason City – Clear Lake area. He is believed to be the only person to have successfully achieved the relocation of two major US highway systems.

Tom was gifted a beautiful tenor voice and at a young age sang and soloed with his church and school choirs. He was awarded a full music scholarship at Drake University which he declined in order to attend Iowa where he was a member of the Old Gold Singers and their featured male voice. He was a popular performer around campus and at school events. After college, he sang and soloed with his church choir until recently. He was born with a song in his heart and would often break into song spontaneously.

Tom's musical career took an unexpected turn when, as a young assistant county attorney, he reluctantly followed his boss's order to listen to and develop his high school son's rock and roll band. Under Tom's management, the Pete Klint Quintet became a success and a top concert attraction, playing the Surf Ballroom and winning the Okoboji Battle of the Bands and being named Band of the Year, resulting in a recording contract. The group played at Los Angeles' famed Holiday Bowl, signed with the William Morris entertainment agency, had several hit recordings and toured the country as the opening band for Sonny & Cher, Stevie Wonder, the Beach Boys, the Doors, the Hollies, the Buckinghams, Steppenwolf and other successful acts. Tom and the band were inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

In addition to his legal practice specializing in real estate law, Tom owned a wholesale beer distributorship, a residential and commercial real estate brokerage company and was an instructor in criminal law and procedure at NIACC through four decades.

Tom is preceded in death by his parents, E. B. (Joe) and Cecile, his sister Bess Paloumpis and husband, Dr. A. A. Palouompis, and his second wife, Linda Naumann. He is survived by his son Van and daughter-in-law, Leigh, and grandchildren Mark and Grace, Dallas, Texas; his daughter Stephanie and son-in-law, Mike Durkin, and granddaughter Alle, Houston, Texas; and his son Paul and granddaughters Sophie, Olivia and Alexis, Dallas, Texas.

The family would like to express their sincere thanks and appreciation to the nurses and staff at Good Shepherd for their extraordinary care and compassion, Nick Pappas, who chauffeured Tom in his later years, and all family and friends who offered assistance, friendship and prayer.

Visitation will be held from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 23, 2019 at Hogan Bremer Moore Colonial Chapel, 126 3rd St. NE, Mason City, followed by a Trisagion service at 6:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, 1311 2nd St. SW, Mason City, followed by interment at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers and customary remembrances, memorials may be made in Tom's name to Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in care of Hogan Bremer Moore Colonial Chapels, 126 3rd St. NE, Mason City. (641) 423-2372.

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