Family reminisces about Thomas

Friday, July 23, 2010
John Thomas

Generous. Political. Caring. Hard-working.

These are words many use to describe John J. Thomas.

Thomas, 86, Brazil, died at Cloverleaf Health Care Thursday.

Services for Thomas will be at Brazil First United Methodist Church, Monday, at 11 a.m., with Rev. Robert Ostermeier officiating. Burial will be at Clearview Cemetery.

Thomas' obituary appears in today's newspaper on Page 3.

Although Thomas was born in Parke County, his name is synonymous with Clay County.

His family moved to Brazil in 1948. He became an attorney in that same year, and with the help of his brother Amos, the two eventually built Thomas and Thomas Law Firm eight years later.

"If you look up Type A personality, that was John Thomas," his son Jamie said. "I think he spent most of his life creating the image of a role model. He was a good role model, for not only the family, but for anyone who was involved with him."

Members of Thomas' family told The Brazil Times growing up in the household was a great experience.

"I always knew that he loved us," Thomas' daughter Jana Wilkes said. "He loved us and wanted to provide the best for us."

Joanna Connors, Thomas' daughter, agreed.

"I never worried," she said. "If we needed something, he provided it."

Wilkes said John instilled a tough work ethic in his children.

"He expected us to work to achieve," she said. "And he rewarded and praised us when we did."

Jamie added the family traveled frequently, something John enjoyed immensely.

"It was a way to spend quality time with us," he said.

"He wanted us to have experiences," Wilkes continued. "He wanted us to learn other cultures."

"He was so generous," Connors added. "He gave us more than we asked for. He wanted us to enjoy our childhood."

His children said their father was from the "Greatest Generation." Being from that era, John did not waste anything or take anything for granted.

"He had a lot of farm boy traits," Jamie said.

Jamie said his father was a huge Chicago Cubs' fan. When he was younger, working on the family farm, Jamie said his father would pick beans, but snap them inside so he could listen to the radio broadcast of the Cubs' game.

John also spent 24 years as a State Representative. Jamie said his father was a Republican, but had an "open mind."

"Most of his voting was on what he thought was best for his district," Jamie said.

Connors added some of her best memories of spending time with her father included making gooseberry pie with him.

"He was bound and determined to do that," she said.

His influence filtered down to his grandchildren as well.

"He had a great impact on them," Connors said.

"He was so very generous," granddaughter Christine Wolf said. "He had a strong work ethic. He read a lot. He knew a lot about the world. He was interested in the world."

Wolf -- who once taught at Staunton -- said he came to her classroom once to discuss government.

"Everybody looked up to him so much," Connors said. "He had so much character."

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  • I remember looking up to John and the entire Thomas family while I was growing up.(Well, Jamie and my brother Dan, I just watched out for you two!) John and my dad, Carl Stuart, did a lot for the Boy Scouts of Clay County and for the Methodist Church. Dad's favorite pie was gooseberry so I figure he must have ate some of John's over the years. Lots of memories and I think of their family everytime I go down Meridian Street. He will be missed.

    -- Posted by greenwooe on Sat, Jul 24, 2010, at 4:09 PM
  • Former resident what was the point in saying that? Just to be negative.

    Sorry for the family's loss sounds like a great man!

    -- Posted by lilmomma on Sat, Jul 24, 2010, at 5:50 PM
  • Former Resident:

    There is absolutely no point to what you have said. I am glad that you are a former resident, this great man has passed and a family is dealing with a loss. Just be quiet and make comments about news related items if you must.

    -- Posted by Ron Archer on Sun, Jul 25, 2010, at 4:47 AM
  • Some people think their job is to critique everything that is written in the paper. Former resident you must not have ever heard "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

    Blessing to the family. The community has lost a great, upright and honest Man.

    -- Posted by righton on Sun, Jul 25, 2010, at 9:53 AM
  • So very saddened by this news, John was a very nice man. My condolences go out to the family.

    -- Posted by Localguy1972 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 11:59 AM
  • I have very fond memories of Representative John Thomas during my pastorate at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. He was a man of faith and he lived that faith by his words and deeds in our State Government. May his body rest in peace until the Day of Resurrection and his soul rejoice in God's Eternal Home!

    -- Posted by Chaplain Tom Chopp on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 11:49 AM
  • My prayers and condolences go out to the Thomas family on the death of a wonderful man and role model. Many looked up to John for his strength, leadership, passion for what he believed in and his compassion. May God bless the entire Thomas family.

    God speed John!

    -- Posted by Proud of My Country on Thu, Jul 29, 2010, at 8:51 AM
  • "Amen" in agreement with the positive postings here. John Thomas was a good, decent, honest man. He will most certainly be missed. Prayers are with the family during this time of grief.

    -- Posted by Emmes on Thu, Jul 29, 2010, at 11:56 AM
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