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Arlene Thoms

Arlene Thoms, 84, passed away January 2, 2010 at Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community in Sioux Falls. She was well known in the Sioux Falls community for her humor, wit, reaching out and lifting spirits. Born to Charles and Ethyl Brown, on March 28, 1926, her career of ‘lifting spirits" began at the age of four as a member of the "Brown Kiddies" who entertained throughout the Sioux Falls community and the Midwest. In 1942, she was married to Leonard Thoms who became part of her long pursuit of helping the less fortunate through foster care and adoption. Arlene has been the recipient of many awards and has been described as a pioneer in many areas such as coordinator of the first Children's Inn Teddy Bear Picnic. She was a major fund raiser for the shelter for abused women and children, taught consumer education and nutrition to low income families, sough out the first children to benefit from the Head Start Program. She also taught tap dancing to deaf students, choreographed the musical production of " No No Nanette", "Irene" and "Showboat" for Sioux Valley Hospital and Washington High School. She was involved with the Cathedral Capers for several years. She served as a volunteer at the Senior Citizen Center and the Banquet, as craft instructor for the handicapped as well as an advocate for those with mental and physical disabilities. She was a member of the Homeless Coalition Board, the DAV and the American Legion auxiliaries and a member of St. Michael Catholic Church. Her latest endeavor called upon her vision for helping others to a greater extent than ever before. She opened "Timothy's House of Hope", a non-profit room and board facility for recovering alcoholics. Arlene's theme for life was a line from her favorite song, "If everyone lit just one little candle what a bright word this would be." She would often add that she "had met so many who didn't have a candle to light". She offered that "candle of hope" to the residents of Timothy's House. When the residents gain employment and are able to live on their own, the make room for others. Arlene was into recycling long before it was popular. Recycling human beings was a natural progression. She became known to many as the "Mother Theresa" of Sioux Falls. She will be greatly missed not only by her family, but by the Sioux Falls community and all who shared her vision of helping others. Arlene is survived by three sons: Terry Thoms, Ted Thoms and Thomas Thoms; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild; five sisters: Sr. Donna Brown, PBVM, Sr. Loraine Brown (PBVM), Bernadette (Milton) Millard, Marilyn (Richard) Boese and Joanna (Don) Salmon. She was preceded in death by her husband, Leonard, son, Timothy Thoms, siblings, Lila Christy, Juletta Oettinger, Robert Brown and Al Brown. Visitation will be Wednesday 6 PM at Barnett-Lewis Funeral Home with a Rosary at 7 PM. A Memorial Mass will be 11 AM Thursday at St. Michael Church.

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