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James Palmer “Jerry” Thormahlen

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  • James Palmer “Jerry” Thormahlen
    James Palmer “Jerry” Thormahlen

A service to celebrate the life of James Palmer “Jerry” Thormahlen is scheduled for Saturday, March 25, at 1 p.m. at Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers in Lubbock.

His spirit soared to join his Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly family on March 2, 2023. Please visit for a service broadcasting schedule, floral purchasingand an area to share stories of Mr. Thormahlen with his family.

James Palmer Thormahlen was born on Oct. 18, 1937, the second of three sons, to Lois Marie Palmer and Keller Haskell Thormahlen in rural Van Zandt County. He spent most of his childhood in the east Texas communities of Van, Athens and Elgin. He was a member of the First Baptist Church. He graduated from Elgin High School in 1956. Upon graduation, he attended Hardin-Simmons University, and played football and baseball on an athletic scholarship. After his freshman year, HSU canceled the scholarship program, so Jerry packed a suitcase, piled in a car with a few other football players, and followed his football coach to Sul Ross College in Alpine. There, he excelled in academics and sports and most importantly met his one and only love, Freda Yvonne Oliver, of Wellman. They were married on Aug. 15, 1959, at First Baptist Church in Brownfield. He graduated from Sul Ross in 1960. Freda and Jerry were blessed with three children: James Mark, born in Alpine in 1960; Diedre Ann, born in Odessa in 1961; and Amy Lynn, born in Abilene in 1967. 

He taught mathematics in several school districts in west Texas, mentored many students and coached athletes in football and track, but football coaching was his passion. He coached at Odessa Hood Junior High, Wink High and Abilene High, where he was head football coach until 1974. In 1974, he and Freda moved their family to Lubbock where he coached for one year at Coronado High School. A new career was around the corner, and he was offered a sales opportunity with the Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York, which was a natural fit for his personality and his deep level of empathy and compassion. He received numerous awards and accolades, in a career that spanned almost 50 years.

A patriotic and civic-minded man, Jerry enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1956, proudly serving until 1959. He was raised as a Master Mason in Wink Lodge #1302 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. Jerry was a member in good standing with the Kermit Lodge #1258 for almost 58 years. He was also involved with the Lubbock Scottish Rite and Shriners. He was a member of the Rotary Club and the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Texas Tech Athletics and a member of the Red Raider Club. 

Jerry loved his family dearly and maintained friendships with his classmates from grade school through college, as well as every person he ever taught, coached or with whom he worked. He never missed a “gathering” of any of those family or friends. Jerry was a lifelong hunter, fisherman, knife and arrowhead collector, amateur photographer and masterful storyteller. Whether by word or deed, Jerry willingly and joyfully helped everyone who crossed his path.

Jerry is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Freda Oliver Thormahlen, who resides at the Isle at Raider Ranch in Lubbock; and their children, James Mark Thormahlen, of Lubbock, Diedre and Frank Rovelli, of Ventura, California, and Amy and Dan Crofut, of Austin; their grandchildren, Olivia Rovelli, Charlotte Rovelli, Palmer Rovelli, John Rovelli and Harriet Crofut; brother and sister-in-law, Roger and Karen Thormahlen; sister -in-law and brother-in-law, Drs. Dessie and Vernon James; brother-in-law, Dan Gary; sister-in-law, Barbara Oliver; nephews, Karl Thormahlen, Dr. Ross Thormahlen, Kurt Thormahlen, Huntley McNabb, Cody Gary and Andrew Oliver; and nieces, Dr. Deborah McNabb, Dr. Cindy McNabb, Greta Thormahlen Shelton and Lana Thormahlen Thompson, Ashley Smith; and their families.

He is preceded in death by his parents; his brother and sister-in-law, Keller Don and Patricia Thormahlen; sister-in-law, Dottie Oliver Gary; brother-in-law, Bud Oliver; and nephew, Keller Thormahlen.

In lieu of flowers, please make charitable donations to the Alzheimer’s Association.