BEDFORD—Veneita Gail (Thomas) Richards, 84, passed from her earthly home to her heavenly home on January 30, 2022. She was born in Springville, Indiana on September 3, 1937 to Rolla Athol Thomas and Hallie Christine (Terrell) Thomas, and they preceded her in death. She married John D. Richards 61 years ago on November 23, 1960.
She was a 1954 graduate of Mitchell High School and a 1958 graduate of Indiana University. Her first teaching position was in Michigan City, Indiana. Her next teaching position was at Lincoln Elementary School in Bedford, Indiana. She then taught for Mitchell Community Schools at Riley, Emerson, Huron, Hatfield Elementary, and Burris Elementary. She taught Kindergarten for most of those years, retiring in 1997 after 35 years of teaching. She was a lifelong member of Jacob Finger United Methodist Church in Mitchell, Indiana where she played the organ for 64 years.
Gail was known to her family as Mom, Mam-maw, Mam, and Aunt Gail. She and her husband, together with God, created a big, loving family. She always faced life with strength, grace, and dignity, and shared the gift of music and creativity with her family. She loved and accepted everyone exactly for who they were, and always thought the best of everyone.
She is survived by her husband John, a brother and sister-in law: Stephen and Anita Thomas; two other sisters-in-law: Nicki Thomas and Linda Richards; four children: Lee (Brad) Purlee, Bedford, IN; Johnny Richards, Scotland, IN; Christy (Hank) Wintczak, Mitchell, IN; David Richards, Scotland, IN; ten grandchildren: Elizabeth (Chris) Hathaway, Dr. John Purlee, Dr. Ann (Michael Blum) Herbert, Dr. Audrey (Dr. Rebecca Evans) Herbert, Megan Wintczak, Brittany (Dr. Jamie Pitts) Purlee, Dr. David (Jordyn) Wintczak, Hallie Richards, Maddie Richards, and Abbie Richards; five great grandchildren: Kaylee, Jack, Max, and Tate Hathaway, Alma Herbert, and Baby Blum due this spring. Gail is also survived by several loving nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Rolla Athol “Buddy” Thomas, and a great grandson, Noah Wintczak.
Due to concerns about COVID and the safety of friends and extended family, the service was limited to immediate family. The service, officiated by Pastor Pam Tedrow, was conducted at Jacob Finger United Methodist Church in Mitchell, Indiana with final resting place at Cresthaven Memorial Gardens in Bedford, Indiana.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials can be directed to Jacob Finger United Methodist Church. The family would also love and appreciate any stories or remembrances be mailed to the church at 139 North 8th Street, Mitchell, IN 47446 in care of Gail Richards’ Family.