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Lottie Ann (Himel) Thomas

May 8, 1929 ~ April 17, 2018 (age 88)

Lottie A. Thomas passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on April 17, 2018 at Memory Care (Ecumen) in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

­­­­Lottie Ann Himel Thomas was born May 8, 1929 in Labadieville, Louisiana. She grew up with a fig tree and Bayou Lafourche in her backyard. Her parents owned a small grocery store, where they both worked and where young Lottie practiced spelling and math. Lottie grew up with one one older and one twin sister. When she was nine years old, her mother died, leaving behind a baby sister; her father soon remarried, giving her a brother. Lottie was an excellent student; she graduated from high school as valedictorian. Lottie worked briefly as a teacher before traveling to Baton Rouge to work as a salesperson (Sandy’s Department Store) and receptionist (Borden Ice Cream Co.) while also taking the occasional class at Louisiana State University. In 1952, at the age of 23 Lottie joined the United States Navy, where she worked as an air traffic controller. Lottie met her husband Ike while stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas, where they were both members of the same Catholic youth group. After leaving the Navy in 1956, Lottie moved to Minnesota to marry Ike. They lived in Moorhead, Minnesota for the first years of their marriage, but moved to Detroit Lakes to take over Ike’s family grocery business (Thomas Grocery) in 1963.

Lottie was a devoted wife, proud mother and grandmother. Although she helped out in the store every day, her primary work was as a homemaker. She made “the best" cinnamon and dinner rolls, as well as pies, cookies, and cakes. Lottie liked working with her hands: she knit countless sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, and dishcloths; she always noticed the work of other talented crafters. She kept in touch with her children and other relatives by writing lots of letters. She liked knowing things and was always reaching for an encyclopedia to learn more. She also enjoyed reading novels, earning many “Let it Snow” mugs for winter reading from the local public library. She was an avid Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings fan. She stayed active by dancing and playing basketball (in her Navy days), bowling in a women’s league (in her middle age), and walking (at all ages). She doted on her dogs Toby and Lucky. She had a beautiful singing voice; her children fondly remember her singing along to the radio in the kitchen.

Lottie was a longtime member of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, belonging to the Christian Mothers, and Saint Rita’s Circle. She considered it a miracle that she survived a cancer (lymphoma) diagnosed in 1988; her family’s faith saw her through a full recovery.

Lottie is survived by her six children: Corrine (Larry) Vange of Detroit Lakes, Monica (LeRoy) Zabel of Long Prairie, Isaac (Adriana) Thomas of Detroit Lakes, Andy (Andrea) Thomas of Salt Lake City, UT, Bridget Thomas (Alex Tetlak) of Kirksville, MO, and Philip (Kelly) Thomas of Lake Charles, LA; along with ten grandchildren: Adam (Anna), Seth, Luke, Rachel, and Sarah Vange; Andy (Kim) and Jeff Zabel; Jonathan Thomas; Olivia Thomas; and Joseph Thomas; and one great grandchild: Kaiden Stephan. She is also survived by two siblings: Lettie (Ed) Diaz and Beverly (Daniel) Sapia, of Louisiana. She is preceded in death by her husband, Isaac (Ike) M. Thomas Jr., her sister Dorothy (Adam) Belanger, her brother Errol (Ethel) Himel, and her father and mother, Adam and Corinne Duet Himel.

The family would like to thank the good people of Memory Care (Ecumen) and The Cottage in Detroit Lakes for their loving care of Lottie during the last years of her life.  We also want to express our enormous gratitude for the support of the Hospice of Red River Valley.

Visitation will be held on Sunday at 5:00 PM at David-Donehower Funeral Home, with the Christian Mothers leading the rosary at 6:30 PM and a prayer service at 7:00 PM. A mass of Christian burial will be held at 1:00 PM on Monday, April 23, at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, followed by burial at 2:30 and lunch reception at 3:00 PM.


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