August 20th struck a blow to the Emergency Department as we received word that our beloved colleague, friend and physician, Ival Thomas, died unexpectedly. How do you write a story of a man so full of life that truly was the essence of “live life to its fullest?” This I feel is a difficult task.
Ival loved to work nights in the ED; I believe some would say because it’s slower at night. I can only imagine the night staff cringing at that phrase because they are the ones that seem to get the dissecting aneurysms, the stabbings and assaults that come in after the bars close, the simultaneous code blues and arrest. Ival chose one of the more interesting times of a day to work, thus there is truly a void in the night shift at PVMC.
Ival was the kind of guy that would put down his briefcase on his way out of the ED to help a patient in need, even though his shift ended two hours before. He would cover the patients up with a blanket, turn out the lights and go on as if that were just what every physician would do.
We worried about the new electronic system that the emergency department was implementing and how Ival would take to it. Ival came in on the 19th to train, and left telling us he was going to “give Steve Jobs a run for his money, if he were still alive.” Ival bought an iPhone, and at 69 years old was becoming proficient with his new gadget. Ival had a can-do attitude and he pretty much achieved everything he went after.
He is best known for the stories he shared about medical school. He has shared his life with Dr. Fred Williams for 47 years. They met in medical school and have been pretty inseparable since. There will be a void of a lifetime friend for Dr. Williams as well as Thaine Gilliland.
To sum up how he will be remembered, we asked staff to express in one word or phrase how they would describe Ival here is what they came up with: “Santa, Large Teddy Bear, Friend, Wise, Intelligent, Caring, Funny, Confidant, Loving, Well Read, Family Man.”
He could be seen growing a full white beard through the holidays so that he could portray Santa. The kids that came to the ED loved it as well as his grandchildren. Ival was quick witted and kind hearted, and that I feel will be the part we miss the most about him. For those of you that did not have the great good fortune to know Ival here is a bit about his past.
Ival Ray Thomas was born January 4, 1944 in Coeburn, Virginia.
He attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and later the University of Tennessee at Memphis, where he earned his M.D. in 1969 and met his lifelong friend, Fred Williams. He then moved to Richmond, VA to complete his medical internship at the Medical College of Virginia.
He enlisted in the United States Army in August 1970, serving in Vietnam until August 1972 as a captain and physician. He was awarded two bronze stars among other decoration. He was relieved from active duty to Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver, CO, the city he chose to settle and start a family.
Dr. Thomas then worked at St. Anthony Central Hospital and later transferred to St. Anthony’s North upon its opening. In 2004 he began working at Platte Valley Medical Center.
Ival was a devoted father to his children Kimberly Thomas, Paige Diller, and Hunter Thomas, a devoted brother to siblings Peggy Evans and Jerry Thomas, a grandfather to Brooke and Wyatt Diller, and a loving husband to his wife Kathleen.
He loved the freedom of living in the country, riding his tractor, or tending to his beloved 1972 Blazer or restored 1971 Porsche. He was always “a fixing to get ready to start.”
Ival you will be missed by all but especially your fellow colleagues at Platte Valley!