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Geraldine Thomas (1922 - 2013)

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Gerry was born in Kerens, Texas on January 26, 1922. Her parents were Francis Eugenia Cory and Irwin Walter Hartley; she was the second of two children. Both parents grew up in the Lawrence, Kansas area, when Gerry was 11 months old the family moved back to Lawrence, Kansas. They traveled from Texas in a Model T Ford, and lived in Lawrence with Irwin's mother Lina Brink Hartley for about 5 years, paying rent of $5 per month. When Gerry was 5 years old the family moved into their new home at 1645 Alabama Street, which Irwin had built for $3,000. The family lived at this same home until Eugenia died in 1976. Gerry attended Cordley Elementary School, Lawrence Junior High School, and Lawrence High School. Gerry participated in many school activities and earned the highest honor in girl scouting, the Golden Eaglet, on May 26, 1939 at the same time as her sister Nana. Gerry had a number of cousins who lived nearby in Eudora, Kansas, Ruthie, Marie, Bob and Dick. The family enjoyed many happy reunions at a small family cabin near the Kaw River. Gerry went to the University of Kansas for two years and was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Gerry met Jerald Thomas who was also attending the University at a pledge dance in 1940, they corresponded while he was in the service during World War II. Gerry then attended Emporia State Teachers College for two years and received an Elementary Education Teaching Certificate. Gerry taught two years in an elementary school in Junction City, Kansas. Gerry had many friends who were in the armed services during World War II. Gerry and Jerald wrote each other during the war. After the war Jerald came to Lawrence for a visit, and they fell in love. They were married in Lawrence June 2, 1946. After the wedding Gerry's parents took them to the bus station where they departed for their honeymoon in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. After the wedding Gerry and Jerry moved to Kansas City, Missouri while Jerry attended the University of Kansas City. Jerry graduated in 1948. Gerry and Jerry then moved to Boulder, Colorado where Jerry enrolled in graduate school. Gerry and Jerry lived in a basement apartment on Baseline Street in Boulder near Chautauqua Park. Gerry's culinary specialty was spaghetti, but when money ran low they would buy dented cans of pork and beans. Their first son Whitney Lee was born there in 1949. After Jerry's graduation they moved back to Kansas City in 1950 to help care for Jerry's mother who was very ill with leukemia. In 1950, husband Jerry began his career in the tire business with US Rubber at which time frequent relocation began, the family moved to Hastings and then Omaha, Nebraska. Their second son Clifford Hartley was born in 1952.The family then moved to Columbia, Missouri for two years, 1953-1954. The family then moved to Chicago and lived there from 1955-1956, their only daughter Marilyn Sue was born in 1955. The family then moved back to Kansas City from 1957-1959. Gerry was a stay at home mom and was Den Mother for son Whitney. Husband Jerry did lots of traveling during the week and Gerry was left alone to raise the kids, Jerry would return on weekends. The family made many wonderful trips back to Lawrence to visit Gerry's parents. While in Kansas City, a third son Arnold Neil was born in 1957. Next the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia 1959-1960. Gerry and Jerry got tired of moving every two years and so Jerry obtained a job in St. Louis, Missouri. The family lived in University City from 1960-1964; Gerry and Jerry became very active in the Union Avenue Christian Church where Gerry met many bridge players. In 1964 the family moved back to Columbia, Missouri where they bought their first new house. Gerry was busy raising her four children but found time to be an active Camp Fire Girl leader and ran summer camp for several years. Gerry was active in the First Christian Church and had many friends who she played bridge with. Their house was near a large lake and the family spent many happy hours swimming and ice skating. At this time the family got their first dog, Spot, a pure bread Beagle, but with gray hair instead of black. In Columbia many Beagles were raised but the occasional gray one was not preferred and usually donated to the local animal shelter. The family had many wonderful times with the howling Beagle especially when he returned with his "perfume", usually horse manure that was rolled in. It was Gerry's job to "clean" up the dog. Gerry worked at the University Book Store for many years to help pay college expenses. In 1974 husband Jerry move to Denver to open his tire business. Gerry stayed in Columbia to sell the house and moved to Denver six months later. Gerry left many friends when she moved. In the early days of the tire business Gerry helped deliver tires. Gerry quickly made new friends and played lots of bridge. As the tire business became more successful Gerry and Jerry became members of the Ports of Call travel club and made many trips to Washington, Oregon, California, they also took several cruises to Alaska and Canada, and trips to Ireland and Austria. Gerry even took a trip to Switzerland with her sister Nana. Over the years Gerry kept in touch with cousins Ruthie and Marie and attended a number of reunions with them. Gerry and Jerry enjoyed watching their grand children, Daniel, Cory, Crystal, Brittany, Scott, Doug and Katie. They also enjoyed eating Sunday breakfast at the Brown Palace Hotel. Gerry and Jerry had a wonderful 50th wedding anniversary in 1996. Husband Jerry passed away in 1999. Gerry took her family on a wonderful trip to Maui, Hawaii in July of 2000. Since then Gerry has been active in her bridge club and attended Northglenn United Methodist Church. In 2002 the Thomas Family celebrated Gerry's 80th birthday at the Brown Palace Hotel. In 2007 Gerry sold her home and moved to an assisted living facility and made many new friends and still enjoyed playing bridge. She is survived by her four children, Whitney, Clifford, Marilyn, and Arnold, and also grandchildren Crystal, Daniel, Scott, Cory, Douglas, Brittany, and Katie. Funeral services will be held Saturday January 5 at 11:00 at Family in Christ Community Church at 11355 N. Sheridan, Westminster, Co 80020. Donations can be made in Gerry's memory to the Girl Scouts of Colorado, 400 South Broadway, Denver, Co 80209, 1-855-726-4726.
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Published in Denver Post on Jan. 4, 2013
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