Group honors former director

2012-11-29T20:30:00Z 2012-11-30T00:11:08Z Group honors former directorVanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

GARY | The late executive director of the Lake County Minority Health Coalition was honored Thursday for her activism in public health.

Rosie Thomas was remembered as a generous community leader who had a passion for improving lives in Northwest Indiana. She died from cancer earlier this month.

Her widower, James E. "Payday" Thomas, received a lifetime achievement plaque in recognition of his wife's work.

"I know how much she cared about the community and the city (of Gary) itself," he said.

She put forth her whole self in working with the coalition and in other community organizations, he said. Thomas said that, after he retired, his wife got him involved in the work, too, particularly helping senior citizens.

"She was a loved person and always had ideas for making things better," he said.

The couple, who were married for 43 years and had one son, lived in the same Gary home for decades and were visible, active members of the community.

The Rev. Thomas Fuller Jr., chairman of the board for the Lake County Minority Health Coalition, said the area has a great health need, and Rosie Thomas spread the word about resources available to the community, such as health fairs.

She even traveled to churches and talked about health care options and symptoms of common illnesses, such as diabetes, Fuller said. 

Tracy Robinson, who worked with Thomas, took over as executive director of the coalition. She said she has big shoes to fill and will continue to carry out the work that Thomas did in the community, keeping her legacy alive. 

The award presentation was part of the Too Sweet for Your Own Good diabetes conference, sponsored by Lake County Minority Health Coalition and Purdue Heart Health, at Gary Community Health Net, 1021 W. Fifth Ave., Gary. 

The Lake County Minority Health Coalition is part of The Indiana Minority Health Coalition Inc., a statewide nonprofit organization that works to eliminate health disparities through research, education, advocacy and access to health care services for minority populations.

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