Members of the Evanston football team wait to view the casket of their beloved former coach Alex Thomas at the Second Baptist Church during the early moments of the wake. Coaches stood on the other side of the casket to hold and embrace the players. Credit: Richard Cahan

Alex Thomas, 42, left a legacy of service to Evanston Township High School and thousands of students and staff who like his many family members and friends mourned the sudden death of the beloved coach, while trying to pay tribute to the lives he touched.

The Move Me Soul dance company performs at the funeral of Alex Thomas at the Second Baptist Church. Each of the group members have danced with in the past with Thomas’ widow Djuwanna Keisha Frazier. A huge crowd overflowed onto Benson Avenue. “This is what community is all about,” said Reverend Dr. Michael C.R. Nabors. Credit: Richard Cahan

Thomas died Aug. 12 of a heart attack and the news shocked all of the athletes he worked with as an ETHS safety supervisor, work he did for nine years, as well as the decade of coaching both the girls track & field throws and the football teams.

He was a guide and a mentor. But he was also an ETHS alum, where he was leader of the 1997 Hall of Fame Football squad.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, an overflow crowd gathered at Second Baptist Church, 1717 Benson Ave., to celebrate his life and comfort his family, including his widow Djuwanna Keisha Frazier. RoundTable photographer Richard Cahan was invited to take pictures of the service.

Djuwanna Keisha Frazier (wearing a red dress) is consoled as the hearse carrying her husband leaves Second Baptist Church on Wednesday. “He was my best friend,” she cried. Credit: Richard Cahan

Susy Schultz

Susy Schultz is the editor of the Evanston Roundtable. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and is the former president of Public Narrative, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching journalists and...

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  1. We were grateful to share sacred space with the family, friends, players and co-workers of Alex. The service was an indicator that while Evanston has 70,000 residents, it remains a small, closely-knit community where we are all interwoven. When one is in pain, we are all in pain. Thankful to Rev. Curlee Adams who delivered the eulogy.

  2. Alex was a big-hearted person, even as a child when I met him as a classmate of my daughter. His smile was genuine and contagious and personal. It is a rare and wonderful human who can make others feel seen and heard – and he was able to do that.
    Alex – you will be missed.