Hillsboro – Betty Thomas, 78, died February 17, 2018 at Schowalter Villa in Hesston. She was born August 3, 1939 in Goessel to Menno and Kathryn (Dyck) Schroeder. She married James Thomas July 21, 1961 in Buhler. Survivors include: husband, James Thomas of Hillsboro; sons, Rusty (Stephanie) Thomas of Durham, North Carolina, Kelly (Karena) Thomas of Visalia, California; daughter, Karla (Paul) Reimer of Dominical, Costa Rica; brother, Junis (Velma) Schroeder of Inman; sister, Rosella (Loyal) Martin of Hillsboro; 8 grandchildren. Celebration of Life Service 11:00 a.m. Friday, February 23, 2018 at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church in Hillsboro. Interment 10:00 a.m. at Hillsboro M.B. Cemetery in Hillsboro. Family will receive guest from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday at Jost Funeral Home in Hillsboro. Memorials to Tabor College or Hillsboro M.B. Choir Fund in care of Jost Funeral Home P.O. Box 266 Hillsboro, Kansas 67063. Online condolences at www.jostfuneralhome.com
Life Sketch Taken From the Funeral Bulletin
On August 3rd, 1939, in a modest hospital resting on the Great Plains, a true heart of service took its first beat. Betty Jane (Schroeder) Thomas was born in Goessel, Kansas, unbeknownst to her, set to lead a life serving others.
The youngest of three, Betty spent her childhood caring for her pet lamb while balancing school and church. She accepted Christ at age 8 and was baptized at age 14 at Fehdrau Lake. Like many young girls at that time, she hiked a mile and a half to a one-room schoolhouse. She attended Inman Grade School and Central Christian High School in Hutchinson until graduation in 1957.
Upon graduation, Betty attended Tabor College where she obtained a B.A. in Elementary Education in 1961. In that same year, she also obtained something much more cherished – her husband of 56 years – James C. Thomas.
Betty and James spent the next two years in Arizona, serving youth on a Navajo Reservation. Betty found purpose in teaching her students English as a second language. Eventually, the newlyweds moved back to Kansas and settled in Meade, where Betty would continue her work as an early childhood educator until the birth of her first child.
For the next 21 years, Betty would serve her husband while raising three children. She enjoyed staying home and helping the kids with homework and, of course, cooking delicious meals. She was intentional about supporting her kids, attending every sporting event and dance recital. She also served as a referee to many incidents of sibling rivalry.
In 1981, Betty felt she could balance her home duties with co-owning the local, Dari-Ette ice cream shop. For five years Betty’s heart of service extended to providing the good people of Hillsboro delicious soft-serve ice cream (in the process also creating quite the ice cream dependency in her husband that she would never break). In 1986, after selling the Dari-Ette, Betty began giving back to her Alma Mater – Tabor College – serving as the Administrative Assistant to six presidents over a nearly 20 year career. While presidents changed – one thing never did – Betty’s unwavering support and caring spirit that filled the office.
In 1989, her first grandchild was born. She spent the next 29 years blissfully pumping out baked goods for her seven grandchildren like a true Mennonite grandmother. She always found meaning in spoiling each grandchild with his or her favorite recipes. In 2005, she officially entered retirement to focus on her family, her garden and her crafts.
Finally, and most importantly to her, Betty was always serving the Lord and her church. She found joy in attending Bible study, singing in the choir and using her gifts in the kitchen to support her fellow church members.
Betty passed away on February 17 th , 2018 surrounded by family. She was 78 years young. Everyone knew Betty for her love of baking, welcoming spirit, and caring heart. She was always thinking of others and how she could serve them, usually through delicious food, and usually at the expense of her own comfort. With her now gone, it wouldn’t be a surprise to family and friends if she had already planned for this moment and hid away a pan of cinnamon rolls and a batch of verenika in the freezer, with a note included on how long to set the defrost timer; her final preparation of a celebratory dinner for her loved ones.
Betty is survived by her husband, James; her brother, Junis Schroeder and wife, Velma of Inman; her sister, Rosella Martin and husband, Loyal of Hillsboro; also her three children, Karla Reimer and husband Paul of Costa Rica; Rusty Thomas and wife, Stephanie of Durham, NC; Kelly Thomas and wife, Karena of Visalia, CA; and eight grandchildren, Eric, Chris and wife, Rachel, Ashlyn, Payton, Bradyn, Nicholas and Aaron.
Memorial gifts may be made to Tabor College or Hillsboro MB Church Choir Fund in care of Jost Funeral Home.