Truman Community Mourns Loss of Josh Thomas

Josh Thomas and father Michael Thomas hold up Truman State University pennants in Josh's room. Michael said he was proud to have his son follow in his footsteps and become a Bulldog. (Photo submitted by Michael Thomas)

“We didn’t talk much on the way back, but I wish we had,” sophomore Danielle Nahm said. “We got back at around 2 a.m. and as we headed upstairs to our rooms I told him I’d see him later, not knowing that that was the last time I would ever, or anyone would ever, see or talk to him.”

Nahm was a friend of Josh Thomas, a junior business administration major in his first year at Truman who took his own life April 6, 2017. She said though they were not terribly close, she is glad to have been Josh’s friend.

Nahm spent April 5 with Thomas on a trip to St. Louis and said that it was one of the best days of her life. She said Thomas and she sang Panic! at the Disco songs together and the day had been blissful.

Nahm said Thomas had told her beforehand that one song he really wanted to hear was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. She said when Panic! at the Disco played it, they both screamed the lyrics with the rest of the crowd.

Nahm said following the concert, they talked about how incredible the night was, and they were feeling happy. She said as they drove back to Kirksville, Josh put on more music and she dozed off.

Nahm said when they returned to campus, she and Thomas told each other good night and went their separate ways. She said it was only a few hours later that someone was bangng on her door to tell her the news.

Nahm said that now, hardly a day goes by without her thinking about Josh and how he used to show up at her door with something to say.

“I’ll never be able to forget his personality and how full of life he always was,” Nahm said. “He was truly like no other and if you knew him, you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

Thomas graduated in 2016 from Fort Zumwalt East in St. Peters, Missouri and completed enough college courses to enter college as a junior. During high school, Thomas was part of the football, wrestling, volleyball, track and cross country teams and was involved in the student council.

Thomas was the son of Michael and Suzanne Thomas, and the older brother to Caleb, 14, and Katherine, 12. Josh followed in his father’s footsteps when he chose to be a Bulldog. Michael said Josh’s decision to attend Truman was another bonding experience for them.

Though many knew Josh as a member of Truman’s Alpha Kappa Lambda chapter, it was not the only fraternity he was a part of. When he was 16, Josh became a part of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternity.

“Not wanting him to go alone, [Josh and I] joined during his junior year, making him not just the youngest member in our division, but the youngest member in the state of Missouri,” Michael said. “Not content to just being a member, Josh jumped in with both feet and really became involved.  He was voted our division’s historian and volunteered at the Hibernian’s trivia night and green tie dinner.”

One of Josh’s proudest moments was writing and presenting a speech at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis for the 99th Anniversary of the Easter Rising in Ireland, Michael said. Despite the division being full of civic leaders and older more experienced members, the responsibility fell to Josh, Michael said.

Caleb said some of his fondest memories with Josh were what Josh called “Brother Days.” There was one day each year during summer vacation when Josh would take him out to a movie and dinner. Despite being five years apart and having different interests, Caleb always looked up to Josh and thought it was a special time set aside for just the two of them, Michael said.

Thomas poses with Stitch from the film “Lilo & Stitch.” Leslie Cluney, Thomas’ aunt, said he adored Stitch. (Photo submitted by Leslie Cluney)

Katherine said one memory that stuck out to her is when Josh woke her up at 6 a.m. and told her that he couldn’t sleep and that they should go to IHOP. Katherine said the two went and had breakfast together and just talked. Michael said this was a story he had only recently heard about but that it didn’t surprise him, because Josh was known for being spontaneous.

Josh’s aunt, Leslie Cluney, who also attended Truman, said she was proud to see Josh following in her footsteps. Josh called her while at school just to rub it in that there’s a Starbucks on campus, Cluney said. He also wanted to let her know that the hash browns in Centennial Hall were still awesome.

One story that stands out to her is when Josh was young and she took him to the St. Louis Zoo, Cluney said. She said the two of them never left the petting zoo because Josh didn’t want the goats to be lonely.

“Josh was sweet, kind and hilarious and so, so loved by many,” Cluney said. “He was all that is good and awesome and truly was our ‘Golden One.’  That’s how I’d like for him to be remembered. That’s what I’d want everyone to know.”

One of Josh’s best friends over the years was Rachael Beckerman, who said Josh’s personality was best described as audacious.

“Josh had never been afraid to speak his mind and let his opinion be known,” Beckerman said. “He was never afraid to make new friends and face new challenges. He was never afraid to display a huge personality and be whoever he wanted to be at any given time.”

Beckerman said prior to becoming friends with Josh, she was a relatively shy person. That changed after meeting him because he had the ability to break her shell and she began mimicking his actions.

Beckerman said Josh was always worrying about others and wasn’t afraid to point out when something wasn’t going right.

“Josh was also always a very blunt and honest person,” Beckerman said.  “He was concerned for his friends, and liked to let people know when they could fix something, be helped, or if he could do anything else to improve the lives of those he cared about.”