Our Savior, our Friend, Jesus Christ, invited Lourice Lateafie Ferris Thomas, of Roanoke, home on Saturday, October 27, 2012. Lourice is survived by her Baby, her namesake, her only child, daughter, Lourice Lateafie Thomas II. Jesus previously called home all Lourice's immediate family assigning she the once baby girl, the charge of matriarch and beloved "mother" to a legacy of extended family, friends and community.
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Those preceding her in union with Christ, include her loving husband of 59 years, M. Patrick Thomas; parents, Sam and Deebie Ferris; brothers and wives, Solomon Ferris, Richard and Mary Ferris, and Ellis and Yvonne Ferris; sisters and husbands, Fannie and Nassar Malouf, Victoria and Monsour Saleeba, Melvina Ferris, Rose and Bernard Doss, and Freeda and Mose Assaid; nephews, Lewis Saleeba, Philip Malouf, Paul Ferris, and Sam Assaid; nieces and husbands, Evelyn and Joe Silek and Adrian Hopper; mother and father in-love, Ellis James and Genevieve Cecelia Thomas; brother in-love and wives, Ellis J. and Bette Thomas Jr., Del. A. Victor Thomas, and Ronald Thomas; and nephew/niece in-loves, Vic Thomas Jr., Erica Thomas, Cole Thomas, Samuel Thomas, and Keith Johnson.
Lourice is survived by members of the Thomas family who have called her "sister" for the greater part of their shared lives; Dr. G. June Thomas, Dorothy Thomas, Gene Thomas, Nancy Thomas, David and Joan Thomas, Barry and Robin Thomas; and her two "Greek" sisters, Bertha Roupas Rosson and Lena Roupas Strautin.
Lourice graduated from Jefferson High School, Class of 1944, becoming an alumnus of Roanoke College in 1964 after having returned to complete her undergraduate degree just prior to her daughter's birth. Her Bachelor of Arts-Economics and Secondary Education represented the first member of her family to become a college graduate. If you know Lourice you know her intellect is profound, one of the smartest, most astute, common sense, individuals hands down that any crossing her path have come to know.
She and Pat married on April 27, 1952. Theirs is a "love story" from the moment he saw her in her daddy's store and knew he "desired" her, to daily letters during Marine Corps service between them two a day on his part, to eight years of courting, to the Christmas Eve Mass they both spoke of often with whimsical magic in their eyes when Dad surprised her in his Marine Corps Dress Blues, to the birth of a much heralded and wished for baby after 13 years of marriage, to commitment standing strong through some extremely trying emotional distresses/recovery and relapses, to the moment Pat returned willing himself to breath long enough on the day of his passing to hold the hand of the beauty whom he always exclaimed "Whose the sweetest Baby in the world?" and who ALWAYS held his hand in forgiveness and communion with Christ.
Together they operated the Melrose BBQ from 1954 until its closing in 1978. In 1966 Lourice opened Thomas Tax Service putting to practice her vast knowledge of business planning, financial acumen and personable communication skills developing thoroughly satisfied clientele, that have been customers and friends many for 45+ years. Her intelligence has been praised in this text, truly her business mind was phenomenal and proven in a day and time when this was not the direction of all women.
Thomas Tax Service opened in 1966 and Lourice still worked at 86 years of age. Her perseverance and resilience profound, her strength in all facets unmatched, her fortitude and determination to succeed in living life fully, all serve as such magnificent examples of what can be done if we reach inside to the gifts God gives us and lean on God's strength to help carry us. All that Lourice continued to accomplish in the recent decades she pursued while tormented by a multitude of physical illnesses and limitations. In the early 1990s Lourice began to lose significant amounts of vision from damaging scar tissue in her eyes. In 1998 she faced open heart surgery with mitral valve replacement and double bypass, and lived vigorously and productively for 14 years with progressing COPD, cardiomyopathy/congestive heart failure, and osteoporosis vertebral fractures bringing constant non-ceasing pain. Many face the same or similar obstacles however likely not as many proceed as triumphantly and courageously as the example set by Lourice.
A child of immigrant Lebanese parents, she matured in life beautifully with an appreciation and pride in her Middle Eastern heritage and traditions blended with an unwavering immeasurable pride in the United State of America. The history of her family and the connection of the people of Lebanon settling in the community and this country who brought forth our generations of descendents today have always been of great value and importance for Lourice; she has always served as the "go to" chronicler of Lebanese/family connections.
She has always been committed to the political process of this great nation and worked with many relatives during campaigning and as late as November 2011 continued to perform as an Election Officer with Roanoke City. A lifelong representative of Conservative principles and standards she proudly shared her birthday with President George W. Bush.
She was a lifelong member of St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church serving in many capacities, on many committees, as officers, and on the church council over the years. Lourice has served in many civic organizations as member and officer; The Roanoke Catholic Historical Museum, Roanoke Woman's Club, and others.
Lourice enjoyed creativity loving painting, cooking, sewing and crafts. She loved to dance and was heartbroken in later life when her body only allowed her spirit to dance, yet dance it did. She loved animals especially doggies and will rejoice in having Buffy once again jump in her lap. "Like sands through the hour glass these are the Days of Our Lives" where we shared soaps, baseball, FOX news, CNN, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, The Tonight Show (NOT Letterman), The Golden Girls, Bonanza and many more.
The descriptions of the roles she fulfilled could fill pages: diplomat, financier, family liaison, Catholic, small business owner, aunt, godmother, chef, artist, boss, cousin, in-law, listener, counselor, advisor, chairperson, tax consultant, advocate, worrier, friend, leader, sister, daughter, wifeâ€¦.the list is infinite but none so precious as Momma. In this she was perfect and in being a mother she found her greatest pride and joy in life.
In thankfulness for the gift of Lourice we can all say, "no our lives are not the same and never will be, not because she has left us (though my heart is so very heavy with this truth) but because in living she changed us." In one of my final conversations with my mother I told her I knew no greater or better example for advocacy, appreciation and love of the gift of life at every turn, than she.
Special thanks and love to Lourice's healthcare "angels," true friends who over a decade and a half of shared experience, proved in their professionalism and commitment to affirming life in every time and place, remarkable care and support during many chronic, debilitating health circumstance. In this regard there are many who have touched our journey however with sincerity of heart and overflowing thanks that it is difficult to find words to express, especially we share our appreciation with Dr. John Zimmerman, Dr. Terrance May, Dr. Daniel Temeles, Dr. Robert Keeley, Dr. Richard Konstance. Dr. Fred Coots Jr. and Dr. Carey Robinson. Please know that beyond a shadow of a doubt your talent and your hearts affirmed Lourice's commitment and zest for life and embraced her heart and that of her family.
The family will receive friends on Friday, November 2, 2012, from noon to 8 p.m. At conclusion of the visitation hours guests are invited to join the family for the praying of the Holy Rosary. Funeral Liturgy, will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, 2012. All services hosted at St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church, 4730 Cove Road, NW, Roanoke.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the following in Lourice's honor would lighten the heaviness of our loss-Voice of the Blue Ridge; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; St. Francis of Assisi Service Dogs; St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church; and Madonna House.
"Momma good night and God Bless You, I love you."
Published in Roanoke Times from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, 2012
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