Spotlights

Danny Thomas and St. Jude

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Danny Thomas with fellow comedian Jack Benny and the architectural drawing of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.Danny Thomas unveils the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus at the entrance to the hospital on February 4, 1962.


Then

Danny Thomas thought his life's calling was to be an entertainer. But a day came when he questioned his certainty in his dream. He sought answers from Saint Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. And when he did, everything he had hoped for began to take a backseat to a brand new dream.

As success came to Danny and he was able to support his family, this new dream took shape. As an entertainer he could make the world smile and forget their troubles for a few hours. As the founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, he could change the world a life at a time. He would lift burdens from families who were dealing with a parent's worst nightmare: a child with a terminal illness.

Danny worked tirelessly to build St. Jude and keep it going. He would spend many hours walking the halls, visiting the children in the hospital, sharing with them the good news and bad that came and doing everything in his power to make sure St. Jude remained opened.

Now

During Danny's last visit to St. Jude in 1991, he made a casual remark: "I just want to live as long as the Lord allows and then come here to be buried." Two days later, a heart attack claimed his life. And his wish to be a permanent part of St. Jude was granted.

Outpourings of sympathy from around the country flooded St. Jude. Services were held in California and in Memphis. As his body lay in state in the ALSAC/Danny Thomas Pavilion, a one-mile line of people waited in the bitter cold to pay their last respects to a man who dreamed of being an entertainer, but instead became one of the world's greatest philanthropists.

To this day, Danny, and his wife Rose Marie, who passed away in 2000, are entombed side by side in the Danny and Rose Marie Thomas Memorial Garden on the west side of St Jude campus.

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Future
Though he is gone, his spirit and his vision can still be felt on the hospital campus. His love for St. Jude has passed on to his children Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, and his grandchildren Dionne, Jason, Kristina, Tracy and Kate.

And they continue Danny's dream.

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