Thursday, April 9, 2015


On March 21st, we lost Rob's grandma, affectionately known as Memaw (no doubt coined by a little Rob).  Even though she had a long and full life, the loss is still significant.  Her love for Rob-the only grandchild-and the rest of her family, was so apparent.  She thought the world of Rob (and maybe even spoiled him a bit).  When I first met Memaw what stood out was how poised, proper, and well-spoken she was.  As I got to know her better I found out how incredibly warm and caring she was as well.  When Avery was born, and later Ben, you could see the absolute joy she found in them.

Because this blog is for the kiddos and our family, we thought it was important to have something to look back on and help remember Memaw, and the following words by Rob are a perfect tribute.

Memaw’s life was focused on helping others and ensuring that her actions positively influenced her family, home, neighborhood, community, town, and beyond.  She was always positive and rarely uttered a negative comment about anyone.  If she attempted to do so, it resulted in the most polite and failed shaming you would have ever heard.  She possessed a sort of quiet strength, a beautiful laugh and a contagious smile.  She always noticed the good in others and in turn brought out the best in them.  She was patient and never settled for doing anything other than the right way.  To her family, she was a loving and devoted daughter, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  Within her circle she was a loyal friend.  Although she never had an enemy she would never hesitate to stand up for anyone that she loved or any living creature that was unable to protect itself.  She truly lived by the Golden Rule.  
She held a deep love for the Oklahoma Sooners and enjoyed watching them play during football and basketball season.  Attending football games in Norman was special for her as she loved to see the OU marching band play at halftime and when the game was over.  While the crowds of fans rushed out of the stadium she would move down closer to the field and clap along with the band until they were finished.
She was heavily involved in her church and very spiritual throughout life.  She believed that the church was a foundational part of a good community.  Her compassion and concern for others was easy to spot.  Someone once joked that even if you didn’t pray yourself, her prayers alone may get you into heaven or at least really close.
From her experience with her sons, her grandson, and all of their friends, Memaw knew boys.  She knew what they needed to be taught and what they needed to learn on their own.  She regularly spoke and exemplified the importance of being honest, compassionate, helpful, grateful and polite.  She viewed education as a gift and placed great value being well spoken and the use of proper English.  She expected the best from those that she raised and helped raise.  She was old-school, and although much of what she valued seems to have been lost in today’s world, she was right. 
For many years Memaw ran a non-profit childcare/restaurant/taxi service for Rob as well as his friends.  She was always happy to provide after school snacks and transportation on a whim.  Her home hosted too many basketball games and pool parties to count.  Her television was dominated by afterschool kids shows and if you were so inclined to do homework, there was no better tutor around.  She had a knack for teaching new things or a better way to complete a task.  You always left her home feeling better about yourself than when you came.
For the longest time it seemed that Memaw didn’t age.  She remained very active with her church, community organizations, and her close circle of friends until very late in her life.  She would openly joke about the difficulties with life as she aged, but seemed to navigate those hurdles with grace.  Specifically, one year she mentioned that her high school reunion would be for five class years instead of just hers.  She commented on how it would take that many classes to fill up one float, then laughed as she always did when poking fun at getting older.  She would make comments about “making it” to see high school and college graduations, weddings, great-grandchildren, etc.  She did.  She saw it all.
For the vast majority of her 87 years, she lived a happy life doing the things and being with the people that she loved.  She was fortunate to have many great experiences in her long life and forge many important relationships along the way.  Although it is hard to look past the difficulty of her last months, weeks and days, it must be done because her life deserves to be celebrated.  Those close to her would probably agree.
Losing such an important influence in life will make you stop and think, and after you catch your breath, you realize what is really important.  Memaw was probably most fulfilled by those great things that she instilled in others, those things important enough to stick with us throughout our life.  The same things that we will pass on to those that are as equally important to us.

On Earth she was a blessing and a truly positive force.  Whether or not you believed in angels, her passing made you want to believe.  Though her time has come and gone, she was a true joy that will live on in the memories and through the actions of many.  The life she shared with us was nothing short of a gift.

"Billie Louise Thomas passed away on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the age of 87.

The daughter of Bitsy and Thelma Cornelison was born August 17, 1927 in Claremore, Oklahoma. Billie spent her childhood in Claremore where she graduated salutatorian from the Claremore High School class of 1945. She married her high school sweetheart, Standlee Thomas, on November 3, 1947. They resided in Norman, Oklahoma where she attended college at the University of Oklahoma while Standlee served in the Navy. After Standlee’s discharge from the Navy, Billie began working so he could earn his bachelor’s degree. After obtaining his degree, they returned to Claremore where they made their home and started a family.

They had two sons, Bob and Rick. In addition to being a homemaker Billie worked as assistant to the principal at Westside Elementary. She also served as a den mother while her sons were in Scouts. Billie managed the accounting after she and her husband opened BESCO Electric. She also handled the accounting at the Claremore Tag Agency from where she retired in the late 1990's.

Billie was very active in her community. She was a member of PEO and the Tuesday Study Club. She served on the board of the Will Rogers Library and the Rogers County Work Training Center. She attended church at the First Presbyterian Church of Claremore where she was ordained as Ruling Elder in January of 2003. Billie was a gifted musician. She played the piano and organ for many churches in the area. She assisted Standlee and other community members in the formation of the Claremore Civic Band."

Courtesy of MMS-Payne Funeral Home.

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