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Coyle Funeral Home
1770 S Reynolds Rd
Toledo, OH 43614
(419) 865-1295
Celebration of Life
Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019
3:00 PM
Maumee Valley Country Day School
1715 S. Reynolds Road
Toledo, OH
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Jason Thomas


1971 - 2019
Jason Thomas Obituary
(News story) Jason Thomas, whose science teaching melded sizzle and substance, endearing him - and the subject - to students, died Monday while on a camping trip in northeast Indiana. He was 48.

He'd collapsed as a result of bilateral pulmonary embolisms and was taken to Cameron Memorial Community Hospital in Angola, Ind., where he was pronounced dead, his family said.

Mr. Thomas of West Toledo was with family and friends at Pokagon State Park. He liked the outdoors and campfires and the relaxed conversation they inspired, his wife, Sally Gladwell, said.

"That was a perfect setting for Jason, just listening to Jason's booming laugh around the campfire," his wife said. "It makes me eternally grateful, in our last hours as a family of five, we were around a campfire with our friends."

Toledo School for the Arts, where he taught for more than eight years, posted word on social media.

"Whether he was lecturing, dancing, judging dancing, improvising, or making coffee and breakfast, he touched the lives of students, parents, and the faculty and staff at TSA," the post said.

Maumee Valley Country Day School, where he taught chemistry in the upper school since the fall of 2016, informed parents through an email and offered the services of a support team to students, parents, faculty, and staff.

"He was one of the most kind and compassionate and empathetic teachers I've ever seen," said Lynn Casto, Maumee Valley's head of school. "The kids would describe his room as a stress-free zone. He saw education as a way to serve people and a way to better this world."

Mr. Thomas' sons, Hank, 17, and Sam, 14, are Maumee Valley students. Daughter, Eleanor, 11, attends West Side Montessori, where Mr. Thomas formerly taught and frequently volunteered.

"He had the freedom to step outside of conventional curriculum. He didn't ever have to teach to a test," his wife said. "He could be creative and hands-on. He always emphasized labs rather than textbook studies."

Mr. Thomas' physical science classroom at Toledo School for the Arts "was always an adventure, that's for sure," said Abbie Fricke, 18, a 2019 graduate. "It was a lot of fun. He made sure that what we were learning was interactive."

Take that lesson on the Periodic Table, when chemicals ignited in front of her.

"It was one of the coolest things ever, to see that chemical reaction take place on my desk," Miss Fricke said.

Mr. Thomas also served as a mentor for TSA faculty, said David Johnson, now assistant principal, who taught eighth grade science.

"His ability to offer advice and be humble while offering that advice was a Jason Thomas thing," Mr. Johnson said. "He was a science teacher, but also seemed to be a teacher of life. He understood students as the individual humans they are."

Mr. Thomas kept a coffee pot in his room, and students could partake if they brought mugs. He cooked breakfast for colleagues and, for his students, "a celebratory breakfast," Miss Fricke said, after a big project or test.

"He is the man who taught me how to make an omelet in a waffle maker," she said.

Mr. Thomas also taught chemistry for 3½ years in the early 2000s at St. Francis de Sales High School, his alma mater.

Jason Christopher Thomas was born June 10, 1971, in Toledo. After early years in Fulton County, the family moved to West Toledo, and he attended St. Pius X School, where he and his wife met.

He received a bachelor of science degree in food and nutrition science from the University of Cincinnati. He took graduate courses at the University of Pittsburgh and received masters degrees in education from the University of Phoenix and the University of Toledo.

He had a close bond with his in-laws, Donna and Tony Gladwell - Mom and Dad, to him. He was a member of Christ Presbyterian Church and, last month, was on an eight-day service trip with church members to the Dominican Republic.

Surviving are his wife, Sally Gladwell, whom he married Oct. 7, 1994; sons Henry and Samuel Gladwell Thomas; daughter, Eleanor Gladwell Thomas; father and stepmother, Philip and Judy Thomas; brother, Dave Thomas, and sisters Jenny Thomas, Amy Sauer, Jill Thomas, and Laura Platz.

A life celebration will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday at Maumee Valley Country Day School. Arrangements are by Coyle Funeral Home.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Aug. 11, 2019
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