Thelma Thornton from Niles, OH
Thelma's No Place Like Home

Thelma Thornton

In 1939, Ray and Thelma Thornton built a home on State Route 45 in North Bloomfield, to raise their three children, Nanette, Colleen and Corbin, and start a small farming operation. Ray, the school superintendent, and Thelma, a first grade teacher, owned the property, which quickly became the neighborhood hang-out, until 2007. Thelma, a 104-year-old resident at Shepherd of the Valley – Niles, had the dream of getting back to the place that housed 68 years of wonderful memories. With that simple request, the Dream Team at SOV-Niles sprang into action to see if they could make Thelma’s wish come true as part of the Second Wind Dream program they participate in.  With a couple of phone calls and a little planning, Thelma’s wish came true on Saturday, February 22. As it turns out, David and Deborah Brown purchased the home in 2007 with the goal of turning it into a rental property. Over the course of a year, walls were torn down, steps were replaced, shrubs were pulled and lights were hung to turn an old farm house desperately needing some TLC into a beautiful modern living space perfect for renting to their daughter Amy who happens to be a first grade teacher, and her husband, Mike. Another twist to the story, Thelma taught Deborah in school and was close friends with Wes and Donna Campbell, Deborah’s parents and Amy’s grandparents. When Deborah heard about Thelma’s wish to return home, she and her family agreed to participate and graciously opened their home to the original family. Ray is no longer with us, and Corbin lives in Seattle, WA, but Thelma was joined by Nanette and Colleen who were eager to see what the house looked like. It took Thelma a few minutes to acclimate to the updated layout of the home but once she got her bearings, the memories flooded back. To help open the floodgates were old neighbors and friends and soon we learned about children being chased by giant red roosters in the yard, sliding down banisters, and sleeping in the cellar house. As Thelma put it, “Nowadays I’d be arrested if someone saw that!” Deborah and Amy shared photos taken prior to the renovations started, most of which included original details of the house that Thelma easily could recall and have a story about. Amy also presented Thelma with a book of handmade letters her first graders wrote to her. One ended his letter by saying, “Wow, I can’t believe you are that old!” which caused Thelma to chuckle.The second half of Thelma’s dream day consisted of going to Mary Yoder’s, a favorite spot of the Thornton family, with several of the people that came to see her. After good food and good conversation, Thelma was asked how her big day was going. She replied, “I didn’t know where they were taking me but then as we were driving I knew exactly where we were going! It all seems like a dream.”  Colleen and Nanette were thrilled to see how happy their mom was and admitted it was just as thrilling for them as it was for Thelma. As Colleen put it, “It was hard to watch your house deteriorate the way it was. Seeing it today and all the work they have done is amazing.”

  • Location
  • Niles, OH