An adventure every day
With Thomas Pettit, every day was an adventure. Whether it was taking the kids fishing, starting (and not finishing) projects around the house, or working with the softball league, Thomas embraced each day fully. Even now, five years after his death Debi, his wife of 17 years, laughs as she says, “Every day was an adventure; with Thomas, you never knew what was in store.”
Thomas Pettit was an awesome son, a loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and dear friend to many. He was a longtime employee of Coca-Cola Bottling of Sherman, Texas. He loved kids and spent a lot of his time doing volunteer work. He was a former board member of Sherman Youth Baseball and Softball Association and served as President of the association for several years. When Thomas found some spare time, he loved to golf.
Jessica, his daughter, puts it best, “When you think of dad, you think softball, softball, softball!” Thomas loved softball. He was active in the Sherman softball community as a player, coach, administrator, and organizer. At the beginning of a season, knowing he would be able to enlist parents' help once they became interested, he would coach up to four different teams, ensuring every kid had a team to play on. When asked about his coaching style, Debi smiles and said, “While Thomas was passionate about softball he was a very gentle coach. He did not know how to say an unkind word.”
There was one softball project very dear to both Thomas and Debi. The softball league had two teams for players with physical and mental challenges. To assist these special-needs players, a “buddy” team would play alongside them. Thomas felt it was a powerful learning experience for youths, so he helped create the rotation of the buddy teams to include local high school players.
Brandon, Thomas’s stepson, says, “Thomas was more than a dad, he was my best friend. He taught me right from wrong, and how to treat others. Thomas prided himself on being a people person and helping others.” Brandon continues Thomas' tradition of service, along with a fierce love of softball.
Thomas’ willingness to help others led him to volunteer to cut firewood to assist a friend. On Dec. 22, 2007, Thomas and Brandon were cutting firewood at a construction site. It was an overcast day with a cold front moving in during one of the coldest winters in recent years for Sherman. They were working on a tall stack of downed trees when Thomas slipped and fell. Despite immediate resuscitation efforts, Thomas did not survive.
As he went from adventure to adventure, Thomas and his gentle, giving spirit touched many lives. This generosity continues after his death. When Debi was approached about tissue and eye donations, she immediately knew this was something Thomas would have wanted. Thomas’ donations resulted in 82 grafts, including corneas, skin, and musculoskeletal tissue. The generosity and caring of this family on Thomas’ behalf have been life changing and life enhancing for transplant recipients from all across the country.