By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Times-Herald
DEARBORN – Once a young boy who stuttered in second grade, retired Dearborn history teacher and coach Jon Thostenson has no problem articulately expressing his appreciation for people who helped him along the way and for his new home at Beaumont Commons, Dearborn.
Adopted and raised in Dearborn Heights, Thostenson graduated in 1967 from Lowrey High School in Dearborn, which also served students from his neighborhood in Dearborn Heights District 7. He attended Henry Ford College and Eastern Michigan University, and served two years in the Army including one year in Vietnam with the 1st Air Cavalry Division.
“In Vietnam, my weight dropped to 115 pounds before they discovered I had contracted malaria,” Thostenson said. “Turned out I was allergic to quinine — used to treat malaria. While I am grateful that it kept me from serving on the front lines, I’ll never forget all those who did.”
Thostenson returned to Michigan to complete his education and get his first teaching and coaching job at St. Alphonsus High School in Dearborn. He taught history and government and was head basketball coach for four years.
Later, he joined Dearborn Public Schools and was Fordson High School’s head basketball coach for four years. During his 33 years of teaching and coaching, Thostenson also worked at Bryant Middle School and spent the final 17 years at Dearborn High School.
“It’s not unusual to run into students I used to teach, and they’re always great to help me – at the pharmacy and other businesses around town,” he said.
Retired from DPS in 2012, Thostenson shared that he continued to substitute teach and coach until COVID-19 hit. He still helps out at the high school games.
Now, comfortably settled in his new residence at Beaumont Commons, Thostenson wakes up every morning at 6 a.m., works out four days a week at a gym in Canton, helps out with veterans groups, enjoys taking the walking paths around campus and reading in the peace and quiet of the community’s library and communal areas.
“I really checked out this place before I moved here,” Thostenson said. “I visited several times before making a decision. On my fourth visit, a friend came with me and said he couldn’t find anything wrong with it. That sealed the deal.
“Everyone is so nice. You can’t put a price on that. It’s such a good feeling—so clean and the food is great.”
Thostenson has discovered other advantages. He has reconnected with former teachers and also people he has taught with, who are now neighbors at Beaumont Commons. He recently met Hugh Weller who was his accounting teacher at Lowrey and had also coached cross country and track.
“I have to admit I didn’t do very well in accounting, but it wasn’t because of his teaching,” Thostenson said. “When I was at Fordson High School, Hugh was also a teacher there. How cool to work with a former teacher of mine at the same place.”
While this retired teacher appreciates all the amenities his new home provides, he shared it is the people who live and work there that make him feel so content.
When declaring “the people are so real,” Thostenson has taken on the new role of Beaumont Commons cheerleader.