Ed Thomas helped save Parkersburg

June 24, 2009

When a tornado virtually destroyed Parkersburg last year, Ed Thomas stood tall and fought for the town’s survival.

Where would that town be today without Ed Thomas? Certainly the school district moves all home football games to Aplington. Maybe the school district decides to build a new high school at another location. It’s not that far-fetched that the school district would have considered combining with another nearby district.

Maybe many in the town decide to move away to other communities, possibly the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area. Instead, Thomas demanded the high school remain in Parkersburg. He picked up debris and glass shrapnel on the football field and demanded the school play its first game following the tornado at the “Sacred Acre.”

Ed Thomas won nearly 300 football games and two state titles in his lifetime. But he may have saved Parkersburg with his strong character and leadership last year. That’s a memory that will outlast any of his victories.


On the scene in Parkersburg

June 24, 2009

Ed Thomas was the symbol for hope last year after a tornado ravaged half of Parkersburg and killed six people.

The former Aplington-Parkersburg football coach was gunned down today allegedly by former player Mark Becker in front of his players and other student athletes. He was 58.

People are shocked around town. I broke the news to an elderly couple who were driving around town. The man wept within seconds.

Thomas represented the hard-nosed, mentally tough approach that dignify rural Iowans. He was a man’s man, a leader and more than a coach to these people.

Hundreds of people have set flowers near the football field that bears his name. A press conference with Thomas’ family is set for 4 p.m. I will update following this emotional scene.

If any community can overcome this, it’s Parkersburg. But the real question is, why should anyone have to overcome something like?