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Remembering Heidi Thomas, 96, of West Bend

November 9, 2020 – West Bend, WI – Heidi Thomas of West Bend, a leader in the community who dedicated her life to helping others with a special focus on the people of Haiti has died.
Heidi Thomas
Marianne Boehme worked the last 20 year with Thomas on the Haiti project at St. Frances Cabrini.
“Heidi was a mentor to me and a helper to me in the ministry at Cabrini,” said Boehme. “We became very good friends because we both loved Haiti.”
Boehme said she had 32 years of being involved with Haiti and she thought Heidi was involved for over 40 years.
“When you have such a commitment you change the lives of people,” said Boehme.  “By going there, that’s the most important thing. If God calls on you to do that, that is where you see the difference you have made and I know she affected many people’s lives.”
Rotarians David and Nancy Slinde were also very fond and often inspired by Heidi Thomas.
“She was a great influence in West Bend Rotary Club with her many years of service in Haiti,” said David Slinde.  “She was an inspiration to Nancy and I for becoming bold and taking a risk.  She is a local giant in mission work.”
“Heidi was ahead of her time,” said fellow Rotarian Jacci Gambucci.  “She had a great spirit and lots of energy.”
Friend George Schowalter said, “To many people Heidi and Haiti were almost  synonymous.”
“Forty years ago Heidi helped organize Ventures In People, a non-for-profit organization, helping “Haitians to Help Themselves.”  She gave much of herself and energy to the organization and encouraged many others to join her,   She will long be remembered by friends here and in Haiti,” said Schowalter.
Heidi Thomas, June 19, 2018
“Going to Haiti changed my life. Seeing other people in need.” Heidi Thomas on June 19, 2018

Elfrieda “Heidi” N. Thomas (nee Heidemann) 96, of West Bend found peace on Saturday November 7, 2020.

She was born on June 19, 1924 to the late Otto and Frieda (nee Horneck) Heidemann in Kiel WI. She grew up on the family farm on Cedar Lake in Manitowoc County, and graduated from Kiel High School in 1942.

 

She went on to nursing school at Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in Milwaukee and graduated as a Registered Nurse.

 

Heidi worked as a surgical nurse at Plymouth Hospital and sang in the Plymouth Community Choir, where she met her husband, Roland Thomas. They were married on October 12, 1950 at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in Louis Corners, WI, the third generation of her family to marry on that date.

 

Together they raised five children. Heidi worked at Cedar Community as a nurse for over 25 years, trained many nursing assistants, and was on various Cedar Community boards following her retirement.

 

She was a 4-H leader to several clubs, was a member of the West Bend Rotary, and was a very active member of all the churches she attended.

 

Heidi enjoyed singing, was a member of the Kettle Moraine Choir. She and Roland sang duets at weddings and funerals for many years. She was a volunteer and leader for medical and public health projects for 35 years in Haiti.

 

She took over 75 trips there, surviving the 2010 earthquake, changing generations of individual lives, advancing communities, and developing enduring friendships.  Her impact in Haiti was broad and deep and will endure for years.  Many people are grateful for the work she did and the joy she has left us.

 

Those Heidi leave behind to cherish her memories include her five children, Mary (Roger Wong) Thomas, Katherine Thomas, Peter Thomas, Mark, (Cheryl) Thomas, Laura “Laurie” Stevens; eight grandchildren, Robbie Thomas, Shannon Thomas, Brandon Thomas, Sara Thomas, Noel Thomas, Anna Thomas, Kara Stevens, and Will Stevens; many nieces, nephews, other relatives, special surrogate son, Youdy Gaston, and friends.

 

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband, Roland Thomas; three sisters, Marian (Theodore) Hansmann, Henrietta (Rev. Ralph) Maschmeier, and Marguerite (Karl) Wernecke; two brothers, William (Louise) Heidemann and Rev. Frederick “Pinky” (Lucy) Heidemann; four sisters-in-law, Evelyn Hansmann, Nancy Heidemann, Laura (Walter) Siegert, and Alice (Frederick “Fritz”) Wedepohl; three brothers-in-law, Arno (Edna) Thomas, Herman (Leora) Thomas, and Allan (Florence) Thomas; and a grandson, Jacob Stevens.

A private family funeral service in remembrance of Heidi will be held at Peace United Church of Christ.     A larger gathering to celebrate Heidi’s life is being planned for a later date.

Memorials in Heidi’s name to Peace UCC, to Cedar Community, or to Ventures in People in Heidi’s name are appreciated by the family.

Myrhum-Patten Funeral & Cremation Service has been entrusted with Heidi’s arrangements.

 

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