July 16, 1936 - April 13, 2022
Darlene Gay Cauffman Thomas, 85, resident of Life Care Center, Greeley, CO quietly went to be with the Lord on April 13, 2022, similar to the way she lived her life quiet but meaningful. Over the last few weeks she was blessed by the presence of her sister, daughter, daughter in-law, sons and many grand and great grandchildren standing by her side, two having not yet entered the world. Darlene, through her selfless devotion to having birthed and raised her 5 children has been blessed with 11 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, with as mentioned above two more on the way. Darlene is survived by her 5 children L. Dean Thomas (Kathy Tuttle Thomas), Herbert N. Thomas, Jackie L. Thomas, Suzanne Thomas Graves (Allen Graves), and Richard J.Thomas (Kristi Lichtenberger Thomas). Her mother, Glenna, and father Robert W. Cauffman preceded her in death as did her brother Richard “Dick” Cauffman and Robert W.Cauffman, Jr. Surviving siblings are Kenneth Cauffman, Sandra House (Marlin Jones), Alice Cauffman Raper (Charles Raper), Roger Cauffman (Ilene Cauffman) and Carol Sparks Cauffman. Darlene grew up in Emblem, Wyoming and graduated from Burlington High School in 1955. She was born in a one room house on her parents’ homesteaded farm in Burlington, Wyoming and was 2nd of 8 siblings. She told of the many chores required on the farm before attending school, and rode a horse bareback to school on many occasions. Darlene through the years was a member of the sorority group EAS, Newcomers and Garden Club where she was always a key contributor. While growing up on a farm in Burlington, Wyoming, Darlene knew hard work and passed those traits on to her children, along with her hospitality for hosting large family gatherings. When family or friends came to visit, mom always had an extra place to sleep, and plenty of food, no one went hungry. She enjoyed cooking and some of her signature dishes included lasagna, sweet potato salad, chicken with Russian dressing, banana split dessert, carrot cake, cream cheese marbled brownies...the list goes on and on. She worked for various schools as a cook (we called them lunch ladies), and was, manager of the school kitchen at the Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Greeley Colorado until retirement. For many years she and her co-workers worked diligently to prepare kraut burgers to be sold at the annual Greeley Stampede to raise money for trips that would enhance their skills as school lunch providers. She visited many states through the food service conventions and thoroughly enjoyed these excursions. These were the days when food was prepared in the school kitchen and much was made from scratch. Darlene was known for decorating the salad bar with items such as a watermelon cut in ½, with a portion left for a handle as a basket, then filled with fruit shaped into balls such as cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes etc. It made eating much more interesting for the kids whom she served. Darlene was an avid gardener and regularly planted vegetables while also tending to her yard and many potted plants. She enjoyed antiquing and occasionally playing the slot machines in Central City and Black Hawk, not necessarily in that order. She and her sister Alice traveled together and enjoyed these times while catching up on their lives. On one occasion while traveling with Alice’ grandson Logan, mom encouraged them to stop so he could run and play. While mom was in the store, Logan asked Alice about the machine outside you put quarters in. Alice told him it was just a waste of money. Then she went in to use the restroom and when she came out Darlene and Logan were collecting a piles of quarters from that very machine. She was always a winner. Her sisters Carol, Alice, and Sandra would come for holidays, sometimes with spouses, kids and grandkids and there was always great food and fun to be had at Darlene’s house. She and Sandra would go shopping for Alpaca’s. Sandra remembers all the flea market adventures searching for treasures that reminded them of things that they had growing up. In particular she recalls a time when mom won a little knitting loom and some yarn, she wove a melon scarf with the loom. On another occasion they got lost when traveling to Victor, Wyoming and ended up on a mountain road with an ancient wooden covered bridge and found an old mining town. Sandra said it wasn’t unusual that they would get lost but made for great adventures. She remembers several trips to Estes Park, CO to see and hear the bugling elk. During the summer when Darlene would visit back home, they would all raid their gardens and spend days canning vegetables for mom to take back with her. Sandra was on hand in Salt Lake City UT when Darlene’s daughter Suzanne was born in 1964, Sandra was 13 years of age. Carol remembers taking walks with Darlene and gathering seeds for plants along the way. They also enjoyed looking at the many yards in Darlene’s neighborhood along the way. Darlene thoroughly enjoyed line dancing and clogging and in her younger years would go dancing with her friend Joanne nearly every weekend. She was always dressed to the 9’s on these nights. While at Life Care Center mom enjoyed playing bingo, having her hair and nails done regularly and always wanted to dress nicely. She also enjoyed working in the center’s garden and even when she wasn’t supposed to would stand from her wheel chair with her contraband scissors and deadhead plants, pull weeds etc. She wasn’t supposed to have a needle but she always had one in her small purse for sewing projects. She had plants galore in her room and if you went to visit you might forget she was in a nursing home with all of her personal possessions she cherished surrounding her. She enjoyed various crafts that she worked on such as making jewelry, making dolls clothes and crocheting. She sent cards to every child, grand and great grandchild. She knew where everything was in her room and even in the later years if she wanted something but couldn’t get to it she would tell you which drawer and exactly where it was. She particularly loved going through her jewelry and sharing where she got it from. She had an excellent memory. Darlene shared recently that she had one thing she felt guilty about. While she was in grade school, a teacher had a dollar in her drawer and Darlene took it. The teacher new it but didn’t say anything as she knew the reason Darlene took the dollar was because she was hungry and it enabled her to buy cheese and meat for a sandwich. Our mother ensured we never went without food. Darlene led an honest and meaningful life, and those who knew her are better for it. God has a special place for Darlene in the sanctuary of heaven. A graveside service will be held for Darlene June 25th at Sunset Memorial Gardens at 12:00 p.m. Celebration immediately following at Bittersweet Park, West Pavilion, 35th Avenue and 16th Street in Greeley.
Darlene Gay Cauffman Thomas, 85, resident of Life Care Center, Greeley, CO quietly went to be with the Lord on April 13, 2022, similar to the way she lived her life quiet but meaningful. Over the last few weeks she was blessed by the presence... View Obituary & Service Information
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