Ellen Aldrich Thomas

Honored by:Mary R. Scheve
Brick location:D:15  map

A 1955 graduate of Iowa State University, Ellen Thomas served her alma mater in Extension work from 1954 to 1992 in various roles of summer trainee, home economist and area consumer management. In late 1992, she received the ISU Extension Meritorious Service Award for providing exceptional program and organizational leadership.

As a consumer management specialist for Iowa State University, Ellen addressed problems before they became common topics in extension programs. She offered time management programs to employed women, workshops on financial planning and housing adjustments for retirees, and counseling for financially distressed farm families. She helped two-income families, low resource families, young adults and others with financial management. Ellen also worked with the Iowa Farm Bureau and commodity groups to communicate public policy and programs to consumers. She helped local hospitals assess the need for financially distressed farm families to receive donated health care, and developed programs for families affected by Operation Desert Storm.

Outside of her work, Ellen contributed to her community in many other ways. She was active with her church, serving on the national board for the Disciples of Christ Christian Church besides various regional and local committees in her hometown of Waukee. She was active on the board of the Crestview Retirement Home in Des Moines. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, she counseled many women over the next 30 years through the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program. She judged innumerable county fairs besides judging the food exhibits at the Iowa State Fair for over 30 years.

There are countless other ways Ellen gave back to the world, but the most important ways I haven't even talked about. Her biggest tribute to me was being my mother. She set an example for my father, my two brothers and me that no one can even come close to. One of her greatest joys in life was being a grandmother to "two of the most perfect granddaughters around." Mom showed us through her actions that when you are given the chance, you must give to others as much and as often as you can. Because you see, life is short. And for my mother, life was too short. The cancer that entered her life at age 34 took her from our lives when she was 58 years old. On December 6, 1992, the world lost not just a loyal ISU fan but an incredible woman that we could all learn something from.

My mother truly was and always will be a heroine, to many others but especially me.

Submitted on 6/17/94