Eulogy for Diane L. Thomas
February 13, 2020
by Pastor John Partridge
This may seem like an odd place to start, but one of the strangest, and funniest, scenes in the animated movie “The Incredibles” is when Lucius Best, also known as the hero Frozone, is desperately trying to go out in the street to fight the bad guy, and is having an argument with his wife over where she put his super suit. Why does this matter at a funeral? Because in that scene that only lasts a few seconds, we see that in the home of a genuine hero, the amazing abilities and even the heroism of Frozone is completely ignored because they have become entirely ordinary to the people that live with him every day.
In the years since I became a pastor, I have seen almost that exact same thing happen in the families of people who, although they didn’t have super-human powers, nearly lost sight of the heroes with whom they lived because of the ordinariness of everyday life. And, as met with Diane’s family, and as I looked over the notes that I took while they shared her story, that is what I what I saw.
Diane was born on May 22nd, 1963, went to Alliance High School, and then to Mount Union. She was in her mid-20’s when she met Brad at a campground where Brad was visiting friends and Diane had arrived with a mutual friend. After their meeting, they dated for about a year before getting married in the chapel at Christ Church. I want you to understand that our chapel is not very big. It only seats about 30 people if you squeeze. So small was their wedding, that other than the pastor and a few members of their immediate family, the only people in attendance were the kids who came from the daycare center downstairs.
For Diane and Brad, church wasn’t just the place that they had a wedding, it was more of a way of life. Diane loved to sing, and she sang in the choir, played in the bell choir, and became the church’s financial secretary while Brad became the church’s custodian and jack-of-all-trades. Diane was known by her coworkers to be one of the most organized people at church and she was always on top of anything with which she was involved. Brad said that the most amazing thing about Diane was that she was able to put up with him.
Diane’s favorite color was purple, she was easygoing and hardly ever picky, she loved chocolate silk pie, she loved the holidays, loved watching movies, and she loved animals, especially her dog, Grace. Diane and Grace were practically inseparable and although she isn’t human, just the same, Grace is struggling with Diane’s loss as much, or more, than many of you.
Diane and her family did just about everything together, from trips to Mexico, Niagara Falls, Myrtle Beach, and a bunch of other places with the word “beach” in them, motorcycling, walking, and lots of restaurants. And Rachel emphasized that everything they did together was always fun. While the kids were growing up, Diane was regularly reading to them. She loved books. She was not just an avid reader, she read constantly. In this last year alone, Diane read more than one hundred books.
I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to all the children yesterday, but I’m going to guess that the experiences of Heather and Scott weren’t a lot different from the things that Rachel told me. Rachel talked to her mom while she drove home from work every day, and she said that her mom helped her grow up, was always there for her, helped her with everything, and was absolutely her best friend.
But the hardest, and the most inspiring, part of Diane’s story started 12 years ago when she first discovered that she had breast cancer. She fought it, and she won. But on her ten-year checkup, they discovered that this beast from her past had returned. And she fought it again. She fought hard and she fought bravely, and she battled with the beast for three more years. And in all that time, Diane never complained. Brad said that Diane always handled her fight, and her situation, better than he did. And, in the same way that she had always done everything, no matter what happened, Diane always had a positive attitude.
So, while those who were closest to her might be tempted to say that Diane Thomas lived an ordinary life, what are the things that she will be remembered for? Certainly, she was loving. There were never any doubts about her love for Brad, or for her kids. She loved her kids partners as if they were her own. This past Christmas, the family gathered at Rachel’s house and although they didn’t realize it, all her siblings had the chance to be together one last time. No one will forget Diane’s love for them.
But Diane will be remembered for more than love. If we think back through the stories that I just shared with you we saw fun, faith, faithfulness, dedication, tolerance, an infectious and consistently positive attitude, and an incredible abundance of courage.
A little while ago, I said people lose sight of the heroes with whom they live because of the ordinariness of everyday life and I think that’s what’s happened here. Although in the middle of the everyday, day-in and day-out struggle, it might have seemed ordinary, upon reflection we realize that Diane spent years of her life fighting one of humanity’s greatest super villains.
Although they may not wear capes, we are surrounded by heroes
And clearly, Diane Thomas was one of them.
Obituary for Diane L. Thomas
Diane L. Thomas, age 56, of Salem, passed away at 4:33 p.m. Saturday, February 8, 2020 at Salem Regional Hospital. She was born May 22, 1963 in Alliance, Ohio to Hugh E. and Helen Marie (Taylor) Kiel.
A graduate of Alliance High School, Diane also graduated from Mount Union College.
She had been Financial Secretary at Christ United Methodist Church and Assistant Director of Public Affairs at Mount Union College, before retiring as Digital Content Specialist for Coastal Pet.
A member of Christ United Methodist Church, Diane was an avid reader; she loved animals, and spending time with her family and friends.
Survivors include husband, Bradley D. Thomas, whom she married January, 22, 1990; children, Heather Thomas, Scott Thomas, and Rachel Thomas; siblings, Walter Kiel of Gratis, OH, Marilyn (Will) Omodt of Kingsport, TN, Phillip (Juanita) Kiel of Smithsburg, MD, Paul (Debbie) Kiel of N. Canton, OH; and many nieces and nephews.
Diane was preceded in death by her parents.
Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 13, 2020 at Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home. Friends may call from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday.
Interment will be at Alliance City Cemetery.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, 16133 Ventura Blvd., Suite 1000, Encino, CA 91436.
Arrangements are by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home, 75 S. Union Avenue Alliance, OH 44601.