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Tribute to a friend and family member

Most of you probably did not know her, but Judy Thomas, or Mrs. Judy as we at the Advocate liked to call her, died Monday.

Mrs. Judy, who was the mother of our managing editor Jay Thomas, whose column usually runs in this place each Saturday, worked for us here at the Advocate.

She and her husband Sylvester were riding the roads of Butler County while most of us slept making sure the news got out every week.

If you were charting the delivery of your newspaper, her hands, and those of her husband, were the last ones to touch your newspaper before it was handed off to the post office for delivery to your mailbox. Indeed, they made sure that all the work done by our editorial and advertising staffs weren't for naught.

While the role she played for us here at the Advocate was extremely important, it was insignificant compared to the role she played in her family.

On Thursday, Mrs. Judy was buried after a heart-felt ceremony held at New Ebenezer Church in Highland Home. All of us here at the Advocate attended the funeral to be there for Jay, our friend and co-worker, who obviously loved his mother dearly, and to honor the memory of Mrs. Judy.

I would often hear Jay talking to his mom on the phone, having those mother-son conversations that told me they cared for each other deeply like a mother and son should.

She was a special lady who did for others before she did for herself.

At the funeral I noticed several members of the Air Force in attendance and wondered what the connection was. I discovered later that they were in her son James' Guard unit.

While the unit was overseas, the person told me Mrs. Judy got the names of each member of her son's unit and sent them a care package each month – a small example that shows she gave of herself for the benefit of others more than most.

The grief Jay and his family displayed during the visitation and funeral was heart-wrenching and we grieved with them. You see, here at the Advocate we are like a family. Yes, we all have roles to play and like healthy families we squabble from time to time, but we're family and we care for each other.

On an average week most of us spend more of our waking hours with out co-workers than we do with out own families. We do that because we care about what we do and we know we're serving a higher purpose than just coming to a job every day. That's why when something tragic happens in our lives, we all grieve.

While tragic, Jay, Sylvester and the rest of their family can take solace in the fact that while Mrs. Judy was only with us a short time, she spread more love amongst her family and friends than most people do who live much longer.

Dennis Palmer is publisher of The Greenville Advocate. He can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 125 or by email: dennis.palmer@greenvilleadvocate.com.