Helen Marie Thomas, 94, of Decatur NE

Helen Marie (nee Müller) Thomas, 94, died Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at her home at Brighton Gardens in Omaha, NE. A memorial service will be held in Decatur, NE, at a date to be announced. There will be a private family burial. Pelan Funeral Services is in charge of arrangements.

Helen was born to Benjamin Harrison and Edna (nee Mueller) Müller on July 17, 1922 and grew up in Victor, IA. Her mother died when Helen was four years old. After her father remarried, she was lovingly raised as an only child by him and her stepmother, Jenny (nee McBride) Müller. Helen graduated from local public schools and from Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA, where she majored in music education. At Cornell she met her future husband, Earl Thomas, who during WWII was attending Cornell, courtesy of the U.S. Navy. Helen taught music at Atlantic, IA, before marrying Earl in 1946 and moving with him to Indianapolis, IN, where he worked for Grumman as an aeronautical engineer.

In 1949, the young couple and their two small children moved to Decatur, NE, where Earl returned to operate his family’s farm and Helen taught K-12 vocal and instrumental music in several area public schools. Earl and Helen lived and raised all their children (eventually totaling seven) in Decatur. After Earl died in 1982, Helen earned a second undergraduate degree from Morningside College, Sioux City IA in library science, serving as a school librarian until her retirement in 1995. She lived in Decatur until 2014, when she moved to Omaha.

Throughout her life, Helen was a dynamo–gregarious, high-energy, personally generous, well-read, culturally and socially active, and interested and involved in civic affairs. She was active in many organizations including Riverside Baptist Church, Decatur United Methodist Church, Burgess Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, Onawa, IA, PEO, Delta Kappa Gamma, Eastern Star, and book clubs. She loved international travel, always welcomed the prospect of new experiences, and was fun to be around. For more than fifty years Helen regularly played piano or organ for church services, weddings and funerals, and after retirement she was a piano accompanist for sing-alongs in three different nursing homes.

Preceding Helen in death were her parents and her husband. She is survived by her children, Anne Paxson (partner, George Borsari), Bradenton, FL, Lynn Thomas, New York City, NY, Janet Thomas, North Arlington, NJ, James (Sylvia) Thomas, Decatur, NE, Susan Thomas (Steven Hutchinson), Omaha, NE, John Thomas (Susan Mayberger), Omaha, NE, and Kathryn Thomas, Chapel Hill, NC; grandchildren, Harrison Thomas, Elena Thomas, Melissa (Martin) Anderson, Cassandra (Nicholas) Easterly, Lilia Hutchinson, Jenna Hutchinson, Evelyn Mayberger (partner, Max Brodsky), Benjamin Thomas, Isaac Thomas, and Daniel Foil; and three infant great-grandchildren, Linden Anderson, and twins Amidy and Collins Easterly.

Contributions in Helen’s memory can be sent to Burgess Memorial Hospital Foundation, Onawa, IA 51040 or Future of Decatur Foundation, c/o First Nebraska Bank, Decatur, NE 68020 or to the charity of your choice.

Memorial Contribution


1600 Diamond St.
Onawa, IA 51040


c/o First Nebraska Bank
Decatur, NE 68020


Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas

About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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