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Ed Thomas Funeral

Ed Thomas Funeral

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June 29.

2009 9:36PMHlas column: Ed Thomas funeral sported many team colors By Mike Hlas Gazette [email protected] PARKERSBURG � Lessons learned from Ed Thomas were really easy to witness here Monday.For instance, appreciation isn�t bought or demanded or manufactured.

It�s earned.Almost every business in downtown Parkersburg, a healthy district that wasn�t in the path of last May�s deadly tornadoes, was closed during the funeral of the Aplington-Parkersburg football coach.You can say a person impacted a community, was admired by its people.

But when in the middle of a business day, Black Sheep Antiques and True Value Hardware and The Falcon�s Nest diner all had signs in their windows saying they were closed for Thomas� memorial, that�s appreciation for a life well lived.Yet, the halt of commerce for a couple hours was a small thing.

A more important lesson you could draw from Thomas is how one person can have a positive influence on so many others, be it directly or indirectly.Black wasn�t the overwhelming color at this funeral.

Several patches of greens and reds and blues dotted both sides of the four-block stretch of Colfax Street, from Highway 14/57 to Oak Hill Cemetery.Amid the hundreds of people awaiting the funeral procession were high school football players from several schools hither and yon.

They were brought to this town by their coaches to hear the memorial-service tributes to Ed Thomas and then help salute the coach as his body was brought to the cemetery.They wore their team jerseys.

They helped line that street with respect when the funeral motorcade slowly worked its way past a swimming pool and a basketball court to its somber destination.They came from Cedar Rapids and La Porte City, Mount Vernon and Tipton.

They all had coaches with personal connections to Thomas, the slain Aplington-Parkersburg coach whose reach clearly went far beyond Butler County.Ken Winkler, the football coach at West Marshall High in State Center, quickly organized the tribute for his coaching rival and close friend.

Winkler contacted coaches such as Mount Vernon�s Duane Orr and Cedar Rapids Kennedy�s Tim Lewis, who then went to their players with a request to make the trip to Parkersburg.

Prodding wasn�t required.�After our strength and agility drills last Friday,� said Mount Vernon assistant coach Jon Peters, �we showed the clip of the (TV9) Athlete of the Week banquet.� Thomas spoke at that May event in Cedar Rapids.

KCRG-TV sports anchor John Campbell says he thinks Thomas� talk had the same sort of thoughtful power as Nile Kinnick�s famous Heisman Trophy acceptance speech.It wasn�t as if Thomas or his town had been strangers to Mount Vernon�s players.

Many came here last year to help clean up tornado damage.

Players from college and high school teams around the state did likewise.�We brought about 50 kids to Parkersburg to help out,� said Cedar Rapids Jefferson Coach Jim Womochil.Many returned here just over a year later, for a funeral.

They were respecting their own coaches by attending.�I was just a young man, 23, starting out in coaching,� Womochil said.

�Ed invited me to Parkersburg, sat me down, and talked some offense.

He gave me everything I had, and I took it to Williamsburg.�Womochil led three Williamsburg teams to the state playoffs.�He came five successive years to Williamsburg to put on a linemen�s camp for me.

He came to Jefferson my second year there.�Lots of coaches in Parkersburg on Monday had similar stories.

Thomas taught them things about football, and about working with people.

They try to pay it forward.One more lesson from the coach, these from one of the four Aplington-Parkersburg players to advance to the NFL.�Know where you�re from,� Casey Wiegmann said.

�Never forget where you�re from.�With Jared opening a grocery store, it speaks a lot about what we as individuals learned from him.�Jared is Jared DeVries, one of those four NFLers from A-P, all of whom were Thomas� casket bearers.DeVries has played in 120 games with the Detroit Lions.

He�s never made a play in Detroit as big as the one he and his brothers have made here.A new and very nice grocery store is in Parkersburg.

Brothers Market, it�s called.

The DeVries brothers and family friend Dusty Hanson own it.

It opened last month, a year after S & S Food Store was destroyed by tornado and the owner opted to not rebuild.You can again get fresh meat and produce in Parkersburg.

Brothers Market is 40 percent bigger than the old store.�It was imperative for the sake of growth here,� DeVries said.

�The community needed that grocery store back in town.�Not coincidentally, this was one of Thomas� favorite sayings to his players:�The only way we win is to look out for one another.�A market named �Brothers.� Perfect.
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