With a career record of 292-84 in 37 seasons as a head coach, 34 of them at Aplington-Parkersburg, Thomas was one of the best known football coaches in Iowa and had coached several players who later went on to play for the NFL.
Besides Wiegmann, Thomas' alumnae includes Jared DeVries of the Detroit Lions, Brad Meester of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Aaron Kampman of the Green Bay Packers.
But instead of leaving the 1,000-person town of Parkersburg, Thomas became an even bigger part of the community.
"He said, 'Why would I want to go anywhere else? Everything I need is right here,'" said Thompson.
Thompson said that Thomas was a mentor to the entire Parkersburg community and overall, just an "outstanding man."
"It wasn't about wins or losses or football. It was about making them better young men," said Thompson. "He wanted them to be better husbands some day, better citizens."
Less than a year later this tiny town gathered again at the football field and tried to get through another tragedy, this time without their beloved coach.
Thomas was in the Aplington-Parkersburg High School weight room at approximately 7:45 a.m. when Becker allegedly came in and began firing a handgun, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
Becker has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Thomas and is currently being held at the Butler County jail. The shooter's motive is still unknown.
Becker is a former student of Aplington-Parkersburg High School and played on one of Thomas' football teams, officials said.
Kevin Winker, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, told The Associated Press Wednesday that Becker's "entire past is being looked at."
Becker was arrested Wednesday without incident at his parents' home in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Bond was set at $1 million, and Becker's next scheduled court appearance is July 2.
The suspect was supposed to be taken to a hospital psychiatric unit after breaking into a neighbor's home and leading police on a high-speed car chase Saturday night, according to Jeff Jacobson, a special agent for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations.
Jacobson said that authorities decided early Sunday morning that Becker needed medical attention and took him to a hospital.
"Law enforcement requested prior notification before he was released," said Jacobson Wednesday. "On Tuesday, June 23, Becker spent the night at his parents' home. Law enforcement was unaware he had been released."
Wednesday's arrest is not the first time Becker has run into trouble with the law. Just last weekend, Becker was arrested for speeding and reckless driving, and earlier this year he pleaded guilty to assault, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal mischief, according to online court documents. He was also charged with underage possession of alcohol in August 2004.
Calls to Thomas' family as well as to the school were not immediately returned.
At a press conference Wednesday, Thomas' 30-year-old son Aaron Thomas spoke on behalf of the family.
"Thanks everyone for the thoughts and prayers and concerns for our family," said Aaron Thomas.
"In the midst of our grief we are greatly appreciative of our friends and neighbors," he said. "Without a doubt we're going to miss him. I feel very fortunate to have been his son."