Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Couple together in life, death
By Margie Wuebker
St. Anthony residents Hugh and Patricia Thomas died Tuesday afternoon the way they had lived for so many years - together through good times and bad.
The Thomases, both in their 70s, were pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater.
"We were prepared when the call came from the hospital," daughter Becky Post of Decatur, Ind., said this morning. "Dad had been declining and we knew it was a matter of time before his heart gave out. We never expected to lose Mom at the same time."
Hugh "Tuck," a 77-year-old retiree of the former AGCO New Idea plant in Coldwater, had battled heart problems for some time. He reportedly feared going to a nursing home and each time he spoke about the possibility, his 71-year-old wife calmly replied that would never happen as long as she was there to care for him.
"Mom was a strong woman devoted to taking care of Dad," Post added. "She had triple bypass surgery many years ago but had been in good health since then."
Hugh experienced problems late Tuesday morning and agreed to go to the hospital at the urging of his wife of 47 years, and a neighbor visiting at the home. However, he was adamant about not going in an ambulance.
"Tuck talked a little and walked to the car," said family friend Donna Kaup. "Pat got behind the wheel and they headed down St. Anthony Road to the hospital."
The neighbor, who reportedly has medical training, drove ahead of the Thomases but stopped at the intersection of Erastus-Durbin Road to check on their welfare. Patricia expressed concern at that point because her husband no longer responded to questions. The neighbor checked on him then placed a call to 911 before beginning CPR. While awaiting the arrival of an ambulance about 1 p.m., the wife complained of chest pain shortly before collapsing.
Medical personnel explained to Post and her brother, Jim Thomas of Portland, Ind., the stress of the situation caused a rush of adrenaline that was too much for their mother's heart.
Now family and friends are remembering their loved ones.
"Dad loved to play solitaire on the computer," Post said. "He didn't get around too well...a few steps here and there were like running a marathon to him."
The couple's Pomeranian, one of three beloved pets, watched many a game on his master's lap.
Patricia formerly owned and operated the St. Anthony Tavern, which folks in these parts often refer to as "TP Tavern."
"Everybody knew Pat," Kaup added. "She helped tend bar there until the last year or so. She knew everybody and they loved her."
The two women had planned to go out to eat and then play bingo Tuesday night. Now Kaup is struggling to deal with the fact her friend will not be around to go on an occasional bus trip or frequent dinner-bingo rituals.
"Pat was a very dear friend," Kaup added. "She was considerate all right but she could set you straight from time to time. I can't believe she's gone, but at least they are together."
Funeral arrangements are pending at Hogenkamp Funeral Home in Coldwater.