Thomas was a team player

Eddie Thomas was a team player.

And, he really didn’t care about accolades.

After being named The Employee of the Year at the Parkersburg News & Sentinel, I kidded him that he actually should’ve been named The Employee of the Century.

He just kind of ignored me, and moved on to another subject.

You didn’t see his by-line very often, because he was a paginator and layout artist at the copy desk. He was very, very good at what he did – and fast. Really fast. Sometimes, I would call him “Fast Eddie,” because he was literally a real maestro on the Quark.

When Thomas did write, he was outstanding. He knew a lot about NASCAR, especially about Vienna race car driver Cale Conley.

I know I always enjoyed reading his stories. Probably the only reason he didn’t write more was because of his duties at the copy desk.

Everybody knew that Thomas was ill…but you know what, that didn’t prevent him from working at the office, almost to the day that he….

Mind you, now, he had cancer. He was mentally tough, though, and refused to give in. His mind was as sharp as a tack.

Another thing about Thomas, he never got rattled. He was always cool under pressure, and I personally never saw him get angry. That’s not to say that he always had a smile on his face, because nobody can do that…but he came awfully close to it.

He loved to laugh, and to be honest with you, he always seemed to be in a good mood, no matter what the situation in the office was.

And, he didn’t cuss….at least, if he did, I never heard him.

When I first met Thomas several years ago, he was residing up north in the Cambridge area. That’s where he’s from, and, needless to say, it was a good, long drive to Parkersburg. Later, he and his wife moved to Belpre.

Being from Guernsey County, Thomas knew a lot about the region and often provided me heads-ups on things going on in the sports world up there. He apparently knew the Ford and Burson families pretty well.

I last saw Thomas at a late afternoon sports meeting at The Marietta Times about three weeks ago.

We both arrived in the Channel Lane parking lot at about the same time. We fist-bumped as I unlocked the door to the office. He was wearing a ballcap, and really looked good – and I told him so. He just grinned.

Like always, Thomas had a positive, meaningful input at the meeting.

The following week, the meeting was at the Parkersburg office, and we were informed that Thomas would not and could not be there. I think that might’ve been the first meeting he’d ever missed.

He was under hospice care.

Last week, Thomas died at the age of 50.

He was a good guy – an all-star, in my mind – and the team will miss him – a lot.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer and can be reached at (740)373-2121, x534, or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com