The town of Parkersburg, Iowa has been through a lot in the last 13 months. On May 25 of last year, an EF5 tornado three-quarters of a mile wide, packing winds in excess of 200 MPH, destroyed the community of 1,900.
Just three months later, the well-known Aplington-Parkersburg high school football team was back on the field, led by coach Ed Thomas.
Thomas played an integral part in rebuilding not only the football team, but also the entire town after the disaster. His contributions on and off the field made him a star role model, beloved across the entire state of Iowa.
On Wednesday, Parkersburg's hometown hero was shot and killed inside the school's weight room by Mark Becker, a former player of Coach Thomas.
Becker was arrested shortly after and charged with first-degree murder. It remains unknown what caused the 24-year-old to commit this vicious crime.
Thomas was named the 2005 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year and compiled a 292-84 record in 34 seasons as the Aplington-Parkersburg head coach. He led the Falcons to 19 state playoff appearances and two state titles in 1993 and 2001.
He has coached four players who are currently in the NFL: Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann, Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester, Detroit Lions defensive end Jared DeVries, and Green Bay Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman.
Thomas was known not only for his coaching ability, but also for his desire to teach each of his players many life lessons, including the importance of becoming a valued member of the community.
In September of 2008, E:60's Steve Cyphers did a piece on Thomas and his dedication to rebuilding the high school's football team after the May 25 tragedy (Video - Sacred Acre).
Ed Thomas will be greatly missed by his wife, kids, grandchildren, former players, and fans from around the state of Iowa.