Thomson, Avalon Imogene “Loni”

February 1, 1926 – May 5, 2024
at the age of 98 years

       Memorial Service:  Saturday, May 11, 2024, 1:00 p.m., River of Life Community Church, Blind Bay:

                 Avalon “Loni” Imogene Thomson was born on February 1, 1926 in Hayti, Missouri, USA, near where Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky come together in the Missouri Boot Heel. Hayti was less than five miles from where the Mississippi River is over a mile wide. She lived in the same location until she was eleven. Her family operated a general store, while her relatives and neighbours included farmers, share-croppers, Ozark Mountain people, and grandchildren of slaves. 

 She lived in the same place with the same school friends until the age of 11. The family then became mobile, so she attended schools in Illinois, Michigan, Colorado, California, and Nevada. 

 In Nevada, she had the opportunity to work as a waitress in the mining town of Gabs Valley. By this time, she had shortened her name from Avalon to Loni.  A handsome young man who frequented the restaurant caught her eye, and she his, and so began the courtship of Irvin Thomson, aged fifteen, and Loni, aged sixteen. Irv had come to work at Gabs Valley to provide financially for his mother and siblings. It was war-time, and youthful marriages were common. So, they married, on May 27, 1943 when she was seventeen and he was sixteen. What isn’t so common is the fact that they stayed married for seventy-nine years, until Irvin’s death in 2022. 

 The young couple was soon joined by their first child, Randy, in 1944. Soon after, Irvin was drafted.   Loni lived in Tonopah for eighteen months while Irvin was in boot camp and overseas in the Philippines, right after the Japanese surrender. 

 After being re-united, and still essentially newly-weds, they based themselves near Irvin’s relatives who had recently come from Canada. While Irvin worked a variety of jobs, Avalon continued to find ways to help support the family with jobs such as waitressing, house cleaning and providing childcare. Her most important role was that of mother to Randy, as well as Greg (1947) and Geoff (1950), who completed the family. Thus, they settled into post-war suburban family life. What adventures Avalon and Irvin had in store for them! 

 In 1950, Avalon accepted Jesus as her Savior. She was at once a passionate disciple, making Christ known to families, friends and neighbors, an avid Bible student, and a passionate children’s ministry worker who provided Christian Education to school children and teaching Sunday School. 

 In 1957 Avalon and Irvin read a magazine article about the Chilcotin region of British Columbia, and there was a seismic redirection in their lives. Their first visit to the Chilcotin consisted in eight weeks of camping, fishing, and joining in the world of local ranchers. In 1959 they bought a small ranch, and in 1960 were themselves ranching, using horse-drawn equipment like their neighbors, and shifting from a modern, suburban lifestyle, to that of pioneers. Loni also found that the Gospel was largely unknown in the area, and the Sunday School she started in 1961 developed into a church in four or five years. 

 For the first two years after buying the ranch, Loni and Irvin spent part of their time in Los Angeles raising money to develop their ranch, and the rest of the time developing the ranch.  They then ranched full-time until 1976.  She became lifelong friends with her neighbours and was known for her great hospitality. 

 It was during this time that she began another role that she greatly enjoyed and took seriously, that of a grandmother. From the birth of her first grandchild in 1968 onward, the grandchildren kept coming, and each has been loved dearly. They include fourteen grandchildren, twenty-seven great grandchildren, and twelve great- great grandchildren. 

 By the time they were caring for over 100 cow-calf units, they decided to try their hand at something new. They purchased a café at Nimpo Lake and built a twelve-unit motel next to it. That remained their project until retirement in 1990. They then settled for a few years on a small acreage near Barriere, British Columbia, where Loni continued building her reputation as a great hostess. In the final two decades of their life they enjoyed their house in Blind Bay British Columbia, just a stone’s throw from the Shuswap Lake.  They were active members of the River of Life Community Church. 

 Irvin went to be with the Lord in July, 2022, following a stroke. Loni joined him in the Lord’s presence May 5, 2024. Besides her many grandchildren, she leaves behind her son Randy, son Greg, and daughter-in-law Angela, as well as her niece Becky. Waiting for her in heaven were her parents, two sisters, brother, son Geoff, Granddaughter Heidi, Great Grandson Sebastian, and many more dear friends and relatives. 



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