Dennis J. Thomas: A life of love and dedication
On May 9, 1946, Dennis Jerome Thomas was born to Arthur Thomas Jr. and Bessie in Hartsville, SC. His siblings nicknamed him “Jack” because he was “fast like a jack rabbit.”
In grade school, Dennis was quick to develop a fondness for classmate Mable Edwards and began to write her love notes. Eventually, Mable says, his persistence (and cuteness) won her over, and the two began a friendship that would lead to exchanging vows on August 1, 1970. They settled in Connecticut’s Valley, and Dennis worked at Pratt and Whitney from 1965 until his retirement in 2014 due to his illness.
Dennis and Mable’s 51-year marriage produced two beautiful daughters, Melanie and Stephanie, whom Dennis referred to as Mutt and Jeff. (They still aren’t sure who is Mutt and who is Jeff.) He and Mable welcomed a beloved granddaughter, Ebony, who gave Dennis the name Pop-Pop, which family members adopted as “Pop” through the years.
In Pop’s free time, he loved football and baseball and was “the only person I knew who would watch a baseball game from beginning to end,” recalled Stephanie.
He also enjoyed cleaning despite being “a little too heavy handed with the Pine Sol.” Around the house, the family remembers his ingenuity, his skill at finding some way to fix anything.
“Why is all this tape wrapped around this – insert broken object here – ?” his family often asked.
“Because …” Dennis would start, before explaining exactly why he’d jerry-rigged the sump-pump with a roll of duct-tape and a mop.
And whatever it was would work for a time, until he had to buy a new one, which he didn’t really want to do, because he didn’t like to spend money. But when he did give in, he Spent The Money, opting for the best and newest.
But cleaning and fixing came in a close second to Dennis’s true passion: cars. He loved collecting cars, working on cars, and especially waxing and washing cars, his – and yours too, if you happened to pull into his driveway.
At one point, he had five or six vehicles, but especially loved his green Rabbit that he drove for as long as he could, even after a rust hole developed on the passenger side floor, which he covered with a mat.
This is the perfect image of Dennis J. Thomas: determined, hard-working, stubborn, quick-witted, relentless. A trooper.
Even in the face of increasing illness, Dennis continued to fight. For himself. For his family.
Melanie recalls visiting him on Tuesday before his passing. He wanted her to call Mable and Stephanie, chatting with them all for a few minutes, telling them that he was feeling better. “Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I’ll be home.”
And four days later, he did go home. As was written about his mother Bessie, he “has taken flight at the call of our Heavenly Father to another home prepared by an all wise, all knowing, just and loving God,”
Dennis J. Thomas entered into eternal grace on February 5, 2022 and will forever live in the minds, in the hearts, in the souls of those he loved and who loved him, even more.
Dennis is predeceased by parents Arthur Thomas Jr. and Bessie Thomas (nee London), brothers Franklin Thomas and Robert L. Thomas, and nephew Ricky Thomas.
He leaves to cherish his memories: wife of 51 years, Mable Thomas (nee Edwards); daughters Melanie Thomas and husband John Prete, and Stephanie Thomas; granddaughter Ebony Thomas; siblings Hazel Walker and Carey Thomas of New Jersey; Edgar (Leona) Thomas of Seymour; Diane (James) Brown and Queenie (Samuel) Lyons, all of South Carolina, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Public calling hours are on Friday, February 11, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Jenkins King & Malerba Funeral Home in Ansonia, CT. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in the name of Dennis J. Thomas to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation (crohnscolitisfoundation.org) or the Lewy Body Dementia Association (lbda.org/donate).
“Throughout Dennis’s illness, we heard him call on Jesus to help him,” his family says. “We’re looking forward to seeing him again in heaven.”
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