GOSHEN — Delores A. Thomas, 83, died Wednesday.
She was born to Cleveland and Mary (Mains) Handley in Danville, Ill., Dec. 22, 1930, the 12th of 13 children.
On June 13, 1954, she married Jack K. Thomas.
He survives along with their children, Stanton (Judy) Thomas, Syracuse, and Tonda (Howard) Langdon, Goshen; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a sister, Ruth (the Rev. Robert) Watson, Terre Haute.
She was preceded in death by her parents, seven brothers and four sisters.
Realizing her childhood dream of becoming a registered nurse, she graduated from Lakeview School of Nursing in 1953. She was class president, valedictorian and had one of the highest scores ever recorded on the Illinois Registered Nurse State Board Examination.
She and Jack, a United Methodist ordained pastor, were missionaries of the Church in Sierra Leone, Africa, for more than 12 years. Delores maintained a medical clinic for women and children in a part of the country far from any other medical help, treating thousands of patients, mostly women and children.
In 1965, Delores convinced the local tribal leaders to build a maternity center building and to send a local young woman to the government midwifery training program. The maternity center continued, providing ante-natal, delivery and early infancy care for thousands of families until it was destroyed in the infamous terrorist wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the early 1990s.
Back in the United States, in addition to being homemaker and mother to their children, she was a team worker with Jack in his churches, supervised a low-income health care clinic in Muncie, worked in nursing homes and volunteered with the Red Cross. She loved God, she loved caring for people and she loved family.
In 2003 she showed signs of dementia which was soon diagnosed as Alzheimer’s. Attendant physical problems eventually led to her death.
Cremation will take place at Yoder-Culp Crematory, Goshen.
A celebration of life memorial service will take place March 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Goshen.
Yoder-Culp Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements. Online condolences may be shared at yoderculpfuneralhome.com.