John H. Thommen
Dear Friends, Family, and Community,
This Monday, August 25th, we were shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of John H. Thommen, beloved husband, father, brother, friend, and mentor. We would like to use this space to honor the wonderful contributions he made to this world, and to acknowledge the people who loved and admired him.
John was born in Coquille, Ore., in 1950. He graduated from Coquille High School in 1968. John moved to Ashland in 1975 after serving in the US Navy. He raised eight children here, but there were no boundaries to his family. Many people who loved John found themselves invited into a family circle that will never stop growing. During the fifteen years he worked in the restaurant business he warmed the hearts of customers in The Oak Tree, Omar's, Change of Heart, China Korea, and of course, Beasy's Backroom.
In the early 1990's John decided to follow his heart and began his work as JT's Handyman Service. In many ways, this humble name was a misnomer for the amazing art and versitility of John's work, and yet was perfectly matched with his unassuming and personal nature. His work exists in businesses downtown, including Katwok, Cucina Biazzi, Macaroni's, and Tabu, and in private homes around the Rogue Valley. John was a lover of life and took full advantage of every day. He found great joy in discovering new towns, hiking trails, and picnic spots with his wife Arlene; when asked about a destination, John would often only reply that he was on a quest for "the best burger and beer." The irony was that many people would claim that the best burger in town was served in John's own house. He was a true gourmet who loved entertaining and hosting anyone who stopped by his kitchen. His famous "Guamahunian Chicken," prime rib, and beef jerky made mouths water, and the fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs from his own garden graced many of his dishes. John's apple trees, all twenty varieties, were bountiful. Each year, his apples were patiently pressed into cider, ground into applebutter, sliced into Arlene's pies, or eaten fresh off the branch on crisp September mornings.
A true romanitc, John's work often featured personal touches that showcased his love for gift recipients and customers. John embedded time capsuls in some of his construction; where that wasn't possible, he would slip a "John Loves Arlene" note under a shingle or a place special heart shaped tile on a countertop. John was a hard worker with an endless well of integrity. Each of his children were inspired by him, and valued his advice. He was the type of person you wanted to make proud. John loved stories and poetry that he could read aloud or quietly in his comfortable chair. Though we could never get him to write them down, John's own stories and jokes were vivd and captivating. His twinkling eyes and rosie cheeks framed a beautiful and genuine smile that accompanied every tale. He also enjoyed watching and playing golf, garage sale-ing, and meeting old friends. Each of us knew that to walk with John through town would require additional time because of the number of folks who would want to stop and say hi.
A memorial service for John will be held on Saturday, August 30th at 11 am at the Lithia Park bandshell. We would like to invite people to bring photos, stories, and "John-inspired" food dishes. Contributions in memory of John can be made to the "John Thommen Memmorial Fund" at any Washington Mutual bank to help with medical expenses. Addtionally, a memorial page has been established on Facebook where people can feel free to visit online and share stories and photos. John was survived by his beautiful wife Arlene, his father, his two sisters, his eight children, his eleven grandchildren, and countless people who loved him. John will always be remembered for his strength, his wisdom, his common sense, his humor, his uncommon sensitivity, and his enduring love for his family and his many friends.
John H. Thommen
John H. Thommen