posted on Monday, October 22, 2018
Get to Know the Thomas Family
On June 24, 2009, we lost a father, husband, grandpa, coach, and friend to many. We are so thankful to have had him in our lives for the time we were given. Though we miss him every day, his spirit and the lessons we learned from him stay with us. We hope to carry on his legacy for our own children and the generations to come! We have a great team of people working hard to make the foundation a success and want to share a little bit more about us– the Thomas family.
Where are you now?
Jan - I live in Parkersburg, in the same location we’ve lived at since 1978. We built a new home in 2008 due to the tornado. I recently retired after 15 years with the City of Parkersburg, and 26 years before that working for a local insurance agency. Both of my sons and their families live in Parkersburg as well, which is nice for me!
Aaron - I’m in Parkersburg where I serve as the high school principal and the head boys basketball coach. We have been here since my dad's passing in 2009. We have three boys: Owen is a sophomore, Gavin is a 7th grader and Trevan is in 5th grade. My wife Ellie works at the Parkersburg Elementary.
Todd - I also live in Parkersburg with my wife Candice, son Joe (8), and daughter Avery (6). I work at a financial strategy firm called Financial Architects in Cedar Falls, as I’ve been doing for 17+ years.
What do people most commonly ask you about Ed?
Jan - People don't ask a lot, probably because they don't want to make me feel bad or bring up bad memories. When they do, they ask what I miss most about him.
Aaron - I am often asked how I can go out and speak about it, or if it’s hard to speak with how my dad was killed. My response to that is: without the comfort of knowing where my dad is and his faith, along with our family’s faith, I probably wouldn't be able to speak about it because there would be no hope.
Todd - “How is your mom doing?” This is probably the #1 thing that I’m asked when people see me and the story registers with them. The other question would be, “How hard is it to live in Parkersburg without him there?”
Other than FFF (faith, family, football), what were some
of Ed's favorites?
Jan - He loved all sports, and watching college football and basketball (especially the Hawkeyes). He loved golfing, and tried to get a round in every day in the summer with his besties. He ADORED his grandchildren! He loved hotdogs, and hamburgers (plain and well done), baked beans, and salads with thousand island dressing.
Aaron - Dad loved the Yankees, the NY Giants, and the Boston Celtics. He loved to play golf in the summer with Stub Huisman and other friends. During the winter break of school, he would play a lot of cribbage as well. Dad loved to watch HS kids compete and be competitive regardless of the sport. He also enjoyed being an Elder in the church, and being part of the Iowa Football Coaches Association.
Todd - Part of the 'F' in ‘FFF’ was for sure his grandkids. He a different person with Aaron's kids around. Also, he enjoyed golfing in the summer with friends, and sometimes with Aaron and me.
What is a funny story or fact about him?
Jan - Ed was pretty serious and didn't like change all that much. One time I rearranged the bedroom and had gone to bed before him. When he came to bed later, he plopped down...not on the bed, but the floor! I don't think he liked the new arrangement much, but we did have a good laugh more than once about that.
Aaron - When people think of my dad they think of an intense or intimidating football coach, but at family events he was always made fun of and teased.
Todd - He would laugh at a comical movie or joke and while he was still laughing he would say, "I can't believe you watch this stupid show." Or, if he was laughing at one of us, while he was laughing he would tell us to “stop being stupid”.
As a parent, what was his discipline style?
Jan - Both our sons knew our expectations of them, so that was already understood. Usually, especially when they were older, it was grounding or losing privileges (which stinks because usually if you ground your kids, you are pretty much grounded too.) There were consequences for actions, but we were very fortunate. While they weren't perfect by any means, they were pretty good kids; we didn't have a lot of issues raising the boys.
Aaron - He was more vocal than anything. But mom was more the disciplinarian in our house, I thought. We didn't want to ever disappoint dad, but we knew the true wrath would actually be from mom.
What is one rule you didn’t like as a kid, but now as a parent you understand?
Aaron - My parents were big on "nothing good happens after midnight." My parents would wait up for me to make sure I was not late. If I got home at 12:01, I would be grounded. I appreciate that very much now as a parent.
Todd - My kids are still too young for the rules I didn't like. We do make sure that we are attending church functions and that our kids are also attending.
We know Ed's favorite sport was football. What is yours?
Jan - I also enjoy football alot, but I think basketball is my favorite. This is probably because I played and enjoyed it so much. I loved watching my sons play, and now my grandkids play.
Aaron - My dad also really liked basketball. He helped me develop my love for basketball. He and I enjoyed going up to the gym to shoot and work on my game together.
Todd - Mine would also be football.
Do you think he'd have social media today?
Jan - NO WAY! He barely figured out using a cell phone before he died! He would be "Twitterless" for sure!!
Aaron - No way would he be on social media! Although, he did love his flip phone. He was on it all the time when the school made him carry it after the tornado because nobody could get a hold of him.
Todd - I don't think he would mostly because I don't think he would know how to run it. He used to call me to send him an email just so he could reply.
For Aaron/Todd, what lessons did you learn from your parents' relationship that you aim to implement in your own marriage?
Aaron - My parents were always supportive of one another. They were independent people who each had their own hobbies and interests, which has helped my mom since my dad's passing. With us as kids they were always unified in decisions. I am sure they may not have always agreed, but we didn't know that as kids. I am not perfect at this but I'm working on it!
Todd - That many times I get stuck in my own ways (much like my dad), and stuck in my routine. I also try to make sure Candice knows that I appreciate her!
Any quote or verse that Ed referenced?
Aaron - To me, a verse that truly helped me that my dad often referenced after the tornado was Romans 8:28 : “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
Todd - He would often tell me to keep up the hard work and that he was proud of me.
What do you hope the foundation accomplishes?
Jan - Ed really wanted kids to learn to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and to understand what commitment means. He also taught that you don't have to be "the star" to be important to the TEAM. He wanted kids to learn what it meant to have someone depending on you, to trust someone else and depend on them to be there to do their job. Together, if everyone is trusting everyone and are all working as hard as they can to do their job for the good of the whole, great things happen! He also wanted them to understand that there are consequences for actions, and you have to accept that. Being honorable, honest, dependable, loyal– an overall person of integrity. That is what builds good leaders and that’s what I would like kids to learn. This seems to have been lost a little bit now. People don't want consequences for their actions, only excuses, and I don't think that is reality.
Aaron - My hope for the foundation is that through my dad's legacy, young people can continue to be positively impacted. Through our leadership academies and the extremely generous sponsors of our celebrity golf tournaments, we’ve have been able to do this, I believe! I know dad would love the academies and the excitement of all the young people who attend every year!
Todd - Just that the foundation continues to impact the leaders of our next generation in a positive way! And that those leaders will carry on some of the traits that dad tried to instill in young men and women every day.