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1938 Karol Joan Thomas 2023

Karol Joan Thomas

April 24, 1938 — April 10, 2023


"The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."


Karol Joan (Peterson) Thomas, age 84, passed away on Easter Monday, April 10, 2023 at 11:15pm. She leaves behind her husband of 63 years Dwayne A. Thomas of Liberty, MO. Her daughter and son-in-law Kristen and Charles Johnson, of Lake Saint Louis, MO. Her grandson Bryan Johnson and his wife Ashlee of Columbia, MO. And her great grandchildren Peyton, Rory, Elijah, and Emerson. She was preceded in death and welcomed into Heaven by her daughter Linda Thomas, her parents David and Ellen Peterson, and her most cherished of family and friends who died too soon. She was a breast cancer survivor. She was a Daughter. A Wife. A Mother. A Grandmother. A Friend. And a proud Nurse. Karol had lived the last fifteen years of her life with Alzheimer’s, and the last nineteen months in the loving care of the excellent staff at Oxford Grand in Kansas City, MO.


Karol was born in Iron Mountain, Michigan April 24, 1938. She moved to Liberty with her parents in 1952 with a strong “northern” accent that definitely caught some attention. She graduated from Liberty High School in 1956 where she participated in FHA ‘53; Girls Glee Club ‘53-‘56; Girls Sextet ‘55-‘56; Acapella  Choir ‘55-‘56; Librarian ‘55; Spectator Salesman ‘55; Spectator Co-Advertising Manager ‘56; Pep Club ‘54-‘56; and Phi Nu Phi Sorority.


It was at the age of 15 Karol took the first steps to her future career in Nursing when she became a Candy Striper at Research Hospital in Kansas City, MO. Every weekend she would take the two buses by herself to volunteer her time working side by side with the medical staff. A close classmate wrote in her junior yearbook, “May your nursing career be a success, you will be great help to those many people who need someone like you, who is so completely dedicated to their work. And I admire you for your choice of work, because it takes a great love for humanity and a big heart. You have both.” After graduating from high school Karol entered Augustana Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois. She would take her course load in the mornings, have hands on experience working in the hospital in the afternoons, and that left time for studying at night and over the weekends. She graduated with lifelong friendships with the class of 1959. “The secret of success is consistency to purpose.” What followed was a forty-year career in Nursing. She started by working for Doctors Hendren, Bowles, and Adams in their office in Liberty, MO. Then she worked at North Kansas City Hospital in NKC, MO as a floor Nurse working nights and weekends. And finally in 1973 she was hired as part of the pre-opening staff at Liberty Hospital in Liberty, MO. For the first twelve years as a Registered Nurse, Critical Care Registered Nurse, Karol worked in the Intensive Care/Coronary Care and Critical Care units. She was then approached to create the pre-surgery testing program as their Admitting Nurse. A program that is still used today. She retired after twenty-five years of service at Liberty Hospital on April 2,1999. She liked to say she came with the building, and she was very proud of being a part of the Liberty Hospital family. She took great pride in taking care of people. Nursing is a calling, a way of life. Nursing is a service profession that cannot be lived in isolation. Nurses rely on each other for the synergistic effort of teamwork in their efforts for care giving. Karol will not be remembered for just being a Nurse, but forever she will be remembered for the difference she made during those years by stepping into people’s lives when they needed a light through the storm.



She Was There

(A Nightingale Tribute)


“When a calming, quiet presence was all that was needed, She was there.

In the excitement and miracle of birth or in the mystery and loss of life, She was there.

When a silent glance could uplift a patient, family member or friend, She was there.

At those times when the unexplainable needed to be explained, She was there.

When the situation demanded a swift foot and sharp mind, She was there.

When a gentle touch, a firm push, or an encouraging word was needed, She was there.

In choosing the best one from a family’s “Thank You” box of chocolates, She was there.

To witness humanity—its beauty, in good times and bad, without judgment, She was there.

To embrace the woes of the world, willingly, and offer hope, She was there

And now, that it is time to be at the Greater One’s side, She is there.”

~ 2004 Duane Jaeger, RN, MSN


Karol lived a full life of Love, Family, and Nursing. She can be celebrated for her courage, her vision, her determination, her dedication, her loyalty, and her compassionate heart. Honoring her wishes, her family will hold a private celebration for her. Donations in her memory can be made to World Bird Sanctuary 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Road, Valley Park, Missouri 63088 ( or Alzheimer’s Association Home Office, 225 N. Michigan Ave. Floor 17 Chicago, IL 60601 ( Please specify it will be in memory of Karol J. Thomas.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karol Joan Thomas, please visit our flower store.


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