Reine Marlene Thomas, age 64, passed away peacefully on Dec. 15, 2017, surrounded by her husband Thomas Brateng, son Casey Hayes, and daughter Abby Kraayeveld, after battling cancer for over seven years. She was born on Jan. 2, 1953, in The Dalles, Ore., to Dewey and Catherine (Fridley) Thomas.
She was raised by her parents in Wasco, Ore., on a wheat farm, along with her brother, Kent. There, she enjoyed riding horses, raising 4-H cattle and helping her family with wheat harvest. When Reine was old enough to take the wheel, one might have spotted her confidently steering the wheat truck while standing on the running board, driver’s side door swung open wide, just as her mother had taught her. Reine was a calculated risk taker and a grounded free spirit.
Reine’s roots as a “farm girl” helped in defining her approach to life and work ethic. In her elementary and middle school years, Reine learned to play the piano, as well as the trumpet, which established her love for music. Reine was baptized in and attended the Wasco United Methodist Church with her family, then found herself behind the organ playing for the congregation as a teenager.
While attending Sherman County High School, Reine enjoyed cheerleading, running track, and performing arts. Friends say that Reine could light up a room and always made them laugh. She also held positions on the student council, which foreshadowed her career in leadership. While in high school, Reine stepped out of the small rural farming community she called home and traveled to Brazil to live as an exchange student. This gave her a taste of what would be a life-long passion for travel and appreciation of diverse cultures throughout the rest of her life. Reine graduated with honors from Sherman County High School in 1971.
Reine attended Mt. Hood Community College and ran track before transferring to Oregon College of Education. Ultimately, Reine graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor of science in English in 1977, and began her 30- year career in education. Reine took her first job teaching middle school English and PE classes, as well as coaching volleyball and track, at South Sherman Elementary School in Grass Valley.
Reine then stepped away from teaching for approximately five years to raise her two children. She was a loving, nurturing, and committed mother—always putting her children first. Reine loved to read and did so religiously to and with her children. Reine taught Sunday school, coached her children’s sports, led sing-a-longs around the piano and on car rides, and always had her hand in ensuring homework was completed.
Reine loved nothing more than her children, and reminded them of that frequently throughout her entire life in her actions and her words. She was an exceptional role model, cheerleader, and friend to both kids.
Reine received a master of science in education in 1985 and later taught English, coached cheerleading, and directed plays at Sherman County High School, in Moro, Ore. Reine connected her passion for students and travel by serving as a liaison with the AFS student exchange program.
Reine loved to write poetry, narratives, and descriptive essays—she truly had a way with words. Reine might have also been seen on the stage as a lead or supporting actress in the Barnstormers theater group of Sherman County. Reine was emotive, funny, and just a wonderful story teller and artist.
Reine worked for 15 years at Columbia Gorge Community College filling a number of roles, including the ABE Director and director of student services, before becoming the dean of instruction. She was devoted to program development and partnerships from collaborating efforts to offer GED classes off-campus at Celilo Village, to launching the nursing program and Rural Clinical Simulation Center. During this time she traveled to Guatemala and served on a mission trip with a local Methodist Church group to build houses, care for children in orphanages, and support native women.
Reine accepted her position as the dean of instruction at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus in 2004, where she continued to foster strong relations within the PCC community and colleagues from community colleges across the state. A former campus president was quoted saying that Reine was “extremely hard-working, trustworthy and has a delightful sense of humor.” Reine resigned from her position at PCC’s Rock Creek campus, married Thomas Brateng in September of 2007, and moved to Dallas, Ore. where she would reside until her final days.
Reine found herself back on familiar soil, as her husband Thomas farms cherries. Reine loved living amidst cherry blossoms with her sweetheart. They enjoyed traveling to spend time with their children and grandchildren, vacationing in Mexico and Calif., taking walks together, and they laughed often. They attended the Dallas United Methodist church together.
Reine filled the role as the dean of Chemeketa Community College’s Dallas Center for five years before retiring in 2013. While leading at the Dallas center, she grew student enrollment and dedicated herself to Polk County’s outreach programs. Reine earned a Doctor of Education degree, with an emphasis in Community College Leadership, from Oregon State University in 2013.
Reine was known for her creative leadership, her community spirit, and ability to build partnerships within the community. She was innovative and demonstrated creative thinking for program development and growth.
But above all, Reine’s work in education was always about the students.
Reine was once quoted saying that it was “an inspiration” to go to work and “experience student success.” Reine not only dedicated her life to education but was devoted, simply, to the success of the student learner.
Reine had an uncanny ability to reach people in a deep and meaningful way. She made all of those around her feel special. Her sense of humor and wit, compassion and empathy, positivity and support were all attributes she demonstrated to strangers and her best friends alike.
Reine was a loyal and true friend to many. She always wanted to help others and would go out of her way to do so. She was a faithful and dutiful mother, daughter, and sister.
Left to honor Reine and remember her love are her husband, Thomas Brateng of Dallas, Ore.; son Casey Hayes (Kristi) of San Diego, Calif.; daughter Abby Kraayeveld (Jefferey) of Ridgefield, Wash.; father Dewey Thomas of Wasco; brother Kent (Melva) Thomas of Wasco; stepson Jason Brateng (Brett) of Dallas; and stepdaughter Jeni Cochrane (Dan) of Bend; and nine grandchildren.
Reine was preceded in death by her mother Catherine (Fridley) Thomas in 1999.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at 1 p.m. at the Wasco United Methodist Church in Wasco, followed by a private family graveside service at 3 p.m. Those who so desire may make memorial donations to Columbia Gorge Community College at www. gorgefoundation.org or mail to CGCC Foundation at 400 East Scenic Drive, The Dalles, Ore., 97058.
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