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Call now for immediate attention: 772-999-5547

Thomas Reed Knowles

August 26, 1947 ~ January 15, 2024

Thomas Reed Knowles, 76, of Vero Beach, Florida, passed away January 15, 2024.

Tom was born August 26, 1947, in Lafayette, Indiana to the late Milford and Harriet Guthrie Knowles. Raised in Attica, Indiana, a rural community, Tom had fond memories of playing along the Little Shawnee Creek, so much so that he requested some of his ashes be spread there. As a young man, Tom attended Culver Military Academy and graduated from Attica High School. While at Culver, Tom was a drummer in the drum corps, and for the rest of his life, Tom walked to his own drum.

An avid Indiana University Hoosiers basketball fan, Tom attended the University prior to returning to Attica to work with his father, Milford, at Valley Grain Company, the family grain business. Tom met Sharon Sims, his wife to be, on a blind date arranged by his nephew Charles, who was a 7th grade student in Sharon’s class at Attica High School. Tom and Sharon married on June 16, 1973. Together the two had one son, Jeff, who was born on their third anniversary in 1976.

After the sale of the family grain business, Tom relocated his family to Vero Beach, Florida. In 1989, Tom established Florida Indian River Groves, a citrus company providing fresh fruit for resale as a fundraiser. A skillful businessman, Tom possessed the exceptional ability to focus on what was truly important, rarely stressing over the unpredictable ups and downs of life. He refused to “major on the minors” steadfastly accepting the “crisis du jour,” understanding that “things happen” and extending grace to others. He never burned his bridges. Those closest to Tom, co-workers and friends alike, appreciated his unique sense of humor. He enjoyed “stirring the pot” and playing some good-natured practical jokes. Over Tom’s 35 years of involvement with the company, Tom assisted thousands of schools, churches and community groups in raising millions of dollars for worthwhile causes. The company continues to operate under his son’s leadership, and up until the day before he was hospitalized, Tom was in the office on a daily basis, always willing to provide guidance and support.

Tom enjoyed sunshine and being with nature, spending time on the water, water-skiing and fishing, and expressed his artistic talents through photography, often combining the two to take photos of outdoor scenes. Tom enjoyed the tranquility of running water, and constructed waterfalls wherever he lived, even inside his apartment while at Indiana University. A member of the Attica High School golf team, Tom enjoyed being on the golf course, maybe more than the golf itself. Tom also loved a variety of music, especially music from the 1950’s, as well as smooth jazz, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Andrea Bocelli and even Alice Cooper.

Tom was of the Christian faith, having committed his heart to the Lord, which showed in his kind, patient, accepting, disciplined and non-critical demeanor. Loyal to friends and family, Tom found comfort in the predictable and familiar, and yet he was not afraid to take calculated risks, “coloring outside the lines,” and forging his own path to success. A generous man, Tom gave from the heart and was blessed in return, bringing to mind the Bible verse in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

He leaves his memories to be cherished by his wife of 50 years, Sharon Knowles; son, Jeff (Dustin Haynes) Knowles; sister, Cynthia Barker; brother, Chris (Marcia McAllister) Knowles; nephew, Charles (Lisa) Sims; niece, Julie (Lorri Medaugh) Brady and nephew, David (Jenn Fisher) Knowles.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pathway Church benevolence fund as an expression of sympathy. It is our hope such funds will assist families for whom a funeral presents a significant financial burden. Those interested in giving may mail a check or give online at:


Sharon Knowles

January 23, 2024, 2:57 pm

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 11:00 am, Saturday, February 3, 2024, at Pathway Church, 1105 58th Avenue, Vero Beach, Florida 32966. Inurnment will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Attica, Indiana, at a later date.

Thomas M. Barnes, Jr.

January 23, 2024, 5:39 pm

Sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. We were happy to work with Tom and held him in high regards.
Tommy Barnes
Sally Sparks
Indian River Packing Company

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