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Loretta May Thomas

December 3, 1936 ~ May 9, 2021 (age 84)


Loretta was born in Mason City, Illinois on Dec. 3, 1936. Her parents were Walter & Mary Ballard Shawgo. She spent her childhood through high school in Mason City with six brothers and sisters – Water “Nash”, Donald, Duane, Lorraine – her twin, Carolyn, and Evelyn. She graduated from Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois, and Illinois State Normal Teachers College – now Illinois State University – in Normal, Illinois.

On April 13, 1957, she married C. Robert “Bob” Wade. They had two daughters, Jennifer Ruth & Elizabeth Ellen. Mr. Wade died in October 1992 and Jennifer died in December 1999.

She spent six years in elementary education in Atlanta, Bloomington, and Champaign, Illinois. She then spent four years on the faculty of Lincoln College. With her husband they started their own businesses which they ran successfully together until the early 80s – his JenBe Data Systems (printing, publishing, etc.) and hers JB Catering.  In 1984 she began work as the administrative secretary at First United Methodist Church in Lincoln where the family also attended worship regularly. Leaving her post as secretary in 1996, she followed her decades-long dream serving as pastor at the United Methodist Churches in Illinois City and Pine Bluff, Illinois until her retirement.

She and Jerome “Jerry” Thomas were married on February 15, 1998 and lived in Coal Valley, Illinois until their move to Sonoma, California in 2003. She continued work in the church for seven months as the administrative assistant at Sonoma United Methodist Church.

Serving was a very important part of her life first on local, state, and national committees of the American Diabetes Association through the seventies and eighties and throughout the eighties and nineties on local, district, and conference committees of the United Methodist Church until her move to California.

Her hobbies included needlework, reading mystery novels, and travelling, but her true passion in retirement was found in loving her granddaughters, Lorna & Leah.

She was preceded in death by all of her siblings, husbands Bob and Jerry, and daughter Jennifer.  She is survived by her daughter & son-in-law Dr. Eliot & Elizabeth Carter and their daughters Lorna & Leah who reside in Sonoma.

A virtual memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. PST.

Loretta Thomas Memorial
Time: Jun 19, 2021 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 827 5855 6628
Passcode: Thomas


Memorials may be made to Sonoma United Methodist Church Heifer Project International. Mail c/o Beth Carter, P.O. Box 635, Sonoma, CA 95476 or donation online Donate - Sonoma United Methodist Church ( and select Heifer Project in the drop-down menu.










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