I know this is a blog about stormchasing and the tracking of storms, but it is hard for me to sit on the sidelines and not comment about today’s tragic events. What happened on June 24, 2009 is far different from what happened on May 25, 2008. More than a year ago a devastating tornado struck the town, killing 7 people and destroying nearly half of the town.
That storm took lives and livelihoods away from the community. But today, the town lost something more important, its heart and soul.
Coach Ed Thomas was a towering figure in Parkersburg for years, an iconic high school football coach and teacher, Thomas helped produce many well-rounded athletes, some of which became household names in the college and pro ranks.
Ed Thomas died today, shot to death by a former player. The circumstances surrounding his death will be hard to take in the coming days, weeks and months… but it doesn’t matter. Regardless of the why or how, Ed Thomas is gone.
The impressions I get from those who are not a part of this tight community (and i consider myself one of those), is that this loss is just another dark chapter in the story of Parkersburg, Iowa.
But for the people of Parkersburg, it must be different. Ed Thomas was a source of good amidst all the ruins in the community. He helped the town rebuild and recover…he also helped their spirits heal by bringing back the one thing they pride themselves on, football.
To those of us who don’t live in Parkersburg, it’s Ed Thomas’ history as a football coach that makes this tragedy so shocking. For Parkersburg, it’s something different.They lost more than a well-known coach, they lost a friend and integral part of the past, present and future of their town.
Now, a dark cloud again looms over Parkersburg, but this time it’s not in the sky, it’s in the hearts and minds of those who knew Ed Thomas. Regardless of the pain and suffering in Parkersburg right now, the community will move on, Aplington-Parkersburg football will move on. Ed Thomas would not have it any other way. Because just as in the same way he helped look over Parkersburg recovery over this past year, he’s still looking over that town tonight…but from a higher perch. May God Bless Ed Thomas.