Jeanice Thomas and her husband, the late Paul Thomas, bought the house at 222 N. Cedar St., Marion, about 20 years ago and spent most weekends for the next 17 years making the trip from Wichita to Marion. In 2008, the couple made the move to living in Marion full-time. Since then, Jeanice has taken an active part in the community, both in politics and culture.
Her first involvement in local politics was when Marion City Council and Marion Airport Board discussed disallowing the Heart of America Free Flight Association from having its 2010 annual gathering at Marion Municipal Airport. The group had its 2009 gathering at the airport, largely because of Paul’s involvement in the association, but the Airport Board was displeased with the outcome of the event and rejected the association’s request to return in 2010.
A compromise was eventually reached, which allowed the group to return to the airport for its 2010 gathering. In that process, Thomas started attending City Council meetings and took an interest in local politics.
Earlier this year, Thomas took a role in an issue of greater consequence. While attending a Marion County Commission meeting about the proposal to build a new county jail, she joined others in deciding there needed to be an organized effort to support the proposal. She said she had concerns about the county’s 2008 proposal to build a new jail, but with the 2011 proposal scaled-down and relocated adjacent to the courthouse, she was supportive.
Following her efforts supporting the proposal, which passed, Thomas was surprised when a friend introduced her as “the rabble-rouser” to someone she hadn’t met before. It wasn’t the first time she was surprised by someone’s perception of her.
During the 2010 garden tour in Marion, she talked with some visitors from out-of-town, extolling the virtues of Marion, she recounted at the City Council meeting. The couple asked Thomas whether she was employed by the Chamber of Commerce or was a real estate agent with homes to sell, because they were surprised by how up-beat Thomas was about the town.
“Having come from someplace else, you can see all of what’s right with a town,” she said Saturday.
Thomas has a fondness for the arts, and is working with Jan Davis to organize a pair of art and music tours, June 12 and Oct. 2. She will also be involved with the annual garden tour, June 25, and an antiques flea market, July 1 and 2.
She has a particular passion for the works of William Shakespeare, and it shows. She has shelves full of books about Shakespeare, and the walls of her home are decorated with posters from events in Wichita celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday.
“I’ve always been interested in Bill (Shakespeare),” she said.