Joan Thomas

August 7, 1932July 10, 2021

Joan Thomas August 2, 1932–July 10, 2021 Joan Thomas and her twin sister Jane were born on August 7, 1932 in Middletown, Ohio. Joan was twenty minutes older and she never let Jane forget it. Like their older brother Donald, the girls were born with severe hearing loss due to the Rhesus (Rh) factor, a relatively new diagnosis at the time. They went to Garfield School, attending regular classes except during Art and Music, when they had special classes to learn to read lips and speak sounds they couldn’t hear: z+c+s, f+b+p, h. Joan got her first hearing aids after she graduated from college.

The family moved from Highland to Grand Avenue when the children were young. Joan enjoyed Brownies and Girl Scouts, Sunday School, church choir (Joan said she is sure she and Jane were off key!), Young People’s Fellowship, and playing on the undeveloped land where Temple Beth Shalom and apartments now stand with her siblings, lifelong friend Tommy Wortley and the other neighborhood kids. In junior high, Joan discovered another love: horseback riding. Family pictures show her mother Myra riding as a teenager and young adult.

Joan graduated with honors from Miami University. She loved college, and especially enjoyed learning Spanish. She always wanted to be a teacher but was dissuaded because she couldn’t hear the students behind her. After graduation she moved to Cleveland where someone suggested she try Social Work. It was a perfect fit. She spent most of her career in Children’s Services.

When her dad Russell died in 1972 Joan made plans to retire and return to Middletown. In 1973 she joined household with Jane so they could take care of their mother. Retirement was short: she soon got a job with Montgomery County Family Services, retiring for good in 1985.

When Joan came back to Middletown she immediately got heavily involved in her childhood parish, The Church of the Ascension: Episcopal Church Women, Altar Guild, Cursillo, preparing meals for parish potlucks, and she finally got to teach—Sunday School! Her first love, however, was the food pantry operated by the parish. She spent hours shopping, stocking the shelves, and giving hungry people food. She set the pantry up so the guests had some choices, and didn’t ask for proof of income or qualification: if they said they needed food, they received help. Joan spent a large part of her inheritance almost single handedly financing the pantry. In 2012 the Middletown Community Foundation presented the Mary Jane Palmer Nunlist “I Love Middletown” Award to Joan for her work in the food pantry.

Joan was treasurer of a number of organizations: the Episcopal Church Women in both Cleveland and Middletown, Daughters of the King, Middletown Area Food Pantries and others. When she wasn’t counting beans, Joan enjoyed playing cards, jigsaw puzzles and word searches, cooking, WWE wrestling, and the occasional dirty martini—extra olives. Pets were an important part of Joan’s life; dogs when she was a child, cats in her later years. Most important was her love of people, being with friends and family, and her love for the Lord. Joan was inducted into the Society of Saint Simeon and Saint Anna in 2010 honoring “faithful witness to Christ and through ministry as an Episcopalian “ by the Diocese of Southern Ohio Affirmative Aging Commission.

Joan met the Lord July 10, 2021, joining her father Russell Thomas, mother Myra Chandler Thomas and twin sister Jane Thomas. She holds a place for her surviving sibling Donald Thomas, niece Gwen Rowe, and grand-nieces Dakota and Madelyn (Maddie) Rowe.


  • Visitation

    Saturday, July 17, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, July 17, 2021


Joan Thomas

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Monica Wilson

July 17, 2021

Joan was a blessing to our church and community. She gave all she had to help reduce hunger in Middletown. On Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning people who needs a little help we welcomed into a warm and friendly fellowship, given a week's worth of dinners, and a hug.

She touched a lot of people.

Sarah Kaup

July 15, 2021

Joan was a treasure to the church and the entire community. For years she occasionally house sat when we were out of town, taking care of of an assortment of dogs, cats and birds. She called it Wild Kingdom. A dear, kind, lovely woman we will all miss. ❤️