Dadeville High School rising senior Owen Thomas died Saturday, but friends and family in the community will remember him for being a caring and sweet person.
Thomas, 17, was in the Dadeville marching band drumline. His bandmates said he was helpful and will remember him falling down a hill repeatedly with his drum. Former drumline captain Alex Ware said he and other bandmates always made sure Thomas was OK.
“When I was the drumline captain I had Owen when he was younger and beginning to practice,” Ware said. “He was always a good guy. I respected him a lot because (he) helped me be the leader that I am now.”
Classmate Brittany Claybrook said Thomas helped carry her drum major stand and drove her to practice.
“He was just sweet,” classmate Cimone Presley said. “He was always sweet to everybody.”
Friend and former classmate Dalton Freeman said Thomas liked classic cars and they recently talked about painting his truck. Freeman described Thomas as fun.
Pallbearers Freeman and Jacob Smith wore orange shirts to Thomas’ funeral because it was his favorite color. Preacher Mike Beck also wore a bright green jacket because Thomas liked bright colors.
“I know he’s happy because he’s not here on this earth anymore,” Beck said. “He’s in heaven with his Lord and Savior.”
Beck said Thomas and his family sat in the front row of New Life Baptist Church and Thomas paid attention. One day, Thomas asked Beck to be saved by Jesus after a revival service.
“I’m so happy that Owen came to me that morning,” Beck said. “I was shocked. When I told (his mother) she was shocked. She said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘I’m more sure than anything in my life.’”
Beck said Thomas had a loving heart.
“Young people like Owen don’t come along a lot,” Beck said. “They’re far and few between.”
Thomas worked full-time at Niffers and planned on joining the U.S. Army after graduating high school.
Thomas’ sister, Country Thomas, said her favorite memories of him were when their family vacationed in Michigan.
“Every time someone speaks of him, they speak very highly of him,” she said. “Every time he could help somebody, he helped. Anytime somebody needed a ride somewhere, he would do it. Anytime anybody needed anything he was always there for them.”
Tallapoosa County Schools superintendent Joe Windle said Thomas’ life was ahead of him.
“Our prayers go out to that family,” Windle said.
Thomas was killed just after 8 a.m. when a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup truck left the roadway and collided with a tree on Alabama Highway 49 near the 24-mile marker approximately 5 miles south of Dadeville, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Cpl. Jess Thornton said.