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Column; Brother remembers a life well lived but cut short


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Thanksgiving is one of those days when far-flung American families and friends get together without regard to religion, politics or persuasion to celebrate their good fortune, even if it is only the fact they are with one another. Of all the festive days, it is the most special — until it isn’t.

This is one of those times.

Michael was born in 1945, the last of four children of Red and Peg Thomasson spread over 15 years that encompassed two of the most traumatic events in the nation’s and the world’s history: The Great Depression and the second global war. His timing was great, unlike that of his brother and two sisters. He missed both events and his good luck held through much of his life.

By the time Michael came along, life generally was better for everyone. His siblings soon absented the house, and his doting parents raised him almost as an only child, without the rivalries that occur in average lively, vibrant families with children closer in age. He was in fact a bit spoiled and occasionally more than a little brattish.

But he adored his siblings and they him as they entered adulthood, with him as “their kid.”

His older sister, 15 years his senior, often seemed to consider him hers, protecting him from the wrath of the other two siblings when they no longer could tolerate his shenanigans.

All in all, while it might be too much to call his childhood idyllic, it was better than that of millions of other kids despite the prosperity of immediate postwar America.

His life subsequently was not without turmoil. Whose life isn’t — at least if it is an interesting one? But he developed both as a father and a lawyer, and he became a respected member of the vital city from which this column is being written.

Michael grew into a handsome, 6-foot-3 redhead, often hot tempered, with a first-rate mind, a restless curiosity and a love of golf inherited from his father. He became very good at it. His grades throughout school were excellent, and he went off to a prestigious institution, DePauw University, graduated with honors and headed to law school, where he also excelled.

In fact, 40 years of aggressive law was tempered by a compassion and capacity for charity and friendship outside the courtroom. He mentored his younger partners and showered his children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews with the same attention and love he had received from his parents.

After two marriage attempts, both of which he tried too hard perhaps to make a success, he finally met the woman he should have in the first place, and their love blossomed into a rare compatibility of intellect, spirituality and adventure.

His siblings, now down to two with the early departure of their sister, breathed a sigh of relief. On their 10th anniversary, he was ready to leave the law to his younger partners and begin a life in an enterprise that would rejuvenate the bodies and souls of his wife and himself.

Those are the abbreviated details of a life for which we will soon come together as an extended family to give thanks and to express sorrow on the special holiday for having had the privilege to have known and loved Michael Thomasson, an enveloping presence with an enormous sense of outrage and a passionate love of people generally. He was truly a kindred spirit and a brother who never failed to give advice and aid and to express concern.

Two days before he was to retire, Michael died in an auto accident while talking with the love of his life about their plans for Thanksgiving. He never knew what hit him. His wife, Debbie, a trauma doctor, listened helplessly as emergency personnel tried to revive Michael. He was 67.

God bless him and you during this special season. May it be one of love and thanks.

Dan Thomasson, a retired editor with the Scripps Howard News Service, is the brother of Michael Thomasson, a Columbus attorney who was killed in an auto accident Nov. 15.

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