Obituary Details

Jean Thomas

(07/03/1936 - 07/22/2008)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 07/30/2008

Jean Ruffing Thomas

A funeral service for Jean Ruffing Thomas was held at 11 a.m., July 26, 2008, at the Niobrara County High School Auditorium, with Ron Shoults officiating.

Jan Ruffing Thomas was born July 3, 1936 in Torrington, Wyo. to Henry G. Ruffing and Sophia (Grout) Ruffing. She was raised on the Christ Ruffing Homestead on Old Woman Creek north of Lusk, where she attended Fairview Country School through the 8th grade. She then attended high school in Lusk, graduating in 1954.

After high school she worked as a nurse's aid and lab assistant in Hot Springs, S. D., where she married Howard French and gave birth to a son. They divorced shortly after, at which time she moved to Torrington, Wyo. where she attended college and worked at the Torrington hospital. While there she met and married Freddie Thomas, and from this union 3 children were born.

The family spent several years in Colorado where Jean honed her gardening and cooking skills on top of raising her four children, ranch livestock and ranch hands. Still she found time to drive school bus for three counties, attend ladies clubs and sell Avon products.

In 1973, due to Freddie's health, they moved to Lusk where Jean bought and ran her mother's cafe´, "The Diner". Freddie and Jean divorced in 1980 and she continued to run the business. She loved her "coffee guys and gals," "breakfast buddies," "dinner crowd," "weekend regulars," and all of her "kids and grandkids" who were spoiled rotten (relatives or not!) Jean was famous for making "The Diner" a home away from home for locals and wanderers alike. Anyone who frequented the local mainstay can tell you there's nothing like Saturday fried chicken, Black Cake, Sirloin Tips and many other menu items. In 2000 "The Diner" closed its doors due to Jean's health.

After retirement Jean embarked on her new careers to include selling insurance, dispatching for the local law enforcement, catering, serving breakfast and coffee at The Pub and later at the Rawhide Creek Coffee Company.

A one time cleaning request from the Country Club led to two or more days a week, which soon resulted in a full time schedule working for various businesses in Lusk.

In mid 2007 Jean finally had to focus on herself. After a long hard battle, Jean lost her fight with brain cancer on July 22, 2008, when she passed away at the Niobrara Health and Life center.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Kenneth.

She is survived by four children: Wesley French and Freddie Thomas III (Sandy) of Lusk; Juddee Thomas (Bill) of Douglas; and Debbie Widrick (Dale) of Guernsey; seven grand children; eight great-grandchildren; her beloved dog Buttons (her companion for 11 years); and many extended family members, not to mention all of those she considered family. She will be greatly missed.

The family suggests memorials to Niobrara Health and Life Center to go to the long-term-care area, PO Box 780, Lusk, WY 82225; or to the Niobrara Senior Center, PO Box 928, Lusk, WY 82225.

Pier Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Images & Attachments

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Jean Thomas
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Jean Thomas in 1981
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Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
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