Gladys Thommen

Gladys Thommen

Saturday, February 8th, 1930 Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

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Obituary for Gladys Almada Thommen

Gladys Thommen
Feb. 8, 1930 — Dec. 22, 2019

Gladys Almada Fast Epp Pauls Thommen passed away on Dec. 22, 2019, at the Dallas Retirement Village. Her husband Russel Thommen and son Mark Epp are survivors. Her ex-husband Allen Epp, and daughter Jean preceded her in passing. Her second husband, Gerhard Pauls, also passed away.

Gladys was born to Herman and Elizabeth Fast in Mountain Lake, Minnesota, on Feb. 8, 1930, the second of four siblings. She became known for her piano skills at the local Mennonite Brethren Church.

After studying at the Grace Bible Institute, she began a career as an office worker for Billy Graham in Minneapolis. The son of a local farmer/school custodian and caterer, Allen lured her away to a new life, and a new church, the Alberta Community Mennonite, in northeast Portland. The fact that she was now close to many Fast relatives in Gladstone and Dallas was an added bonus, and reason for many family trips. Mark and Jean grew up in classic American nuclear family tradition, first in northeast Portland, then in southwest so that Allen could be walking distance to work at Portland Community College where he remained for over 45 years.

Piano skills enabled Gladys to lead the musical department and co-ordinate Christmas programs for many years. She also took it upon herself to assemble the church bulletin every week, upon occasion driving it all the way to Gladstone to be printed on the lettertype press in her uncle’s basement four blocks from the Western Evangelical Seminary.

She found the time to harvest walnuts from the family’s two walnut trees, travel 20 miles to pick berries to make jam, and mail most of it back to Mountain Lake to be used in Grandma Epp’s catering business, all based on the annual arrival of several boxes of specialty Christmas cookies. Even after the arrival of the largest shopping mall in the world less than a mile away, she continued to make clothes at home on her Singer sewing machine. Eventually, this skill would become fully developed as she joined quilting groups at Mennonite churches that would be donated for auction sale at the annual Mennonite Fall Festival in Albany, the proceeds from which benefit the Mennonite Central Committee for disaster relief.

Allen’s interest in history led to the family moving to Aurora, where both served for a time as president of the Historical Society. During this time, Gladys began baking pies for the restaurant next door. Soon, Mennonite vanilla and Shaker lemon became required dessert fare. This was in addition to her newly revived career at the offices of the American Baptist Church in Portland, which was through her past work for Lutheran Family Services.

Following divorce from Allen, who returned to a “walking distance commute,” she married Gerhard Pauls and moved to Dallas, where she became involved with the Mennonite Brethren’s mission, the Dallas Retirement Village, where she eventually became the Board of Director’s longest serving member. In addition to continuing with her quilting, she played the piano for the DRV’s weekly Sunday service for many years.
Following Gary’s passing, she married Russel Thommen, another longtime resident and volunteer at the DRV, where she spent the last months of her life in hospice care.

A memorial service will be held at the Dallas Retirement Village chapel at 377 Jasper St. on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at 2 o’clock. Arrangements being handled by Bollman Funeral Home. The family suggests donations to the Mennonite Central Committee, in lieu of flowers.

To plant a memorial tree in honor of Gladys Almada Thommen, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, January 11th, 2020 | 2:00pm
    Dallas Retirement Village Chapel
    377 NW Jasper
    Dallas, Oregon
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
    Saturday, January 11th, 2020

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