Denice Dawn Thibodeau, 65, a journalist who recognized every face on her beat and a fighter who didn’t know how to quit, passed away Monday, September 3, 2018, at SOVAH Health-Danville following a persistent illness.
Born on August 26, 1953, in Flushing, New York, she possessed a strong sense of irony and a contagious laugh that often punctuated such stories as hiking a deserted highway in search of a mechanic to fix an ailing Cadillac and other instances where she would pluck humor from amid chaos.
Mrs. Thibodeau, of 524 W. Main St., Danville, Va., had mastered just about every type of job worth discussing around the water cooler – from learning to fix typewriters at her parents’ repair shop to running a weekly newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee, and stints as production manager for Doubleday Books in New York City and Academic Press in Orlando, Florida, she’d probably done it all.
Her most dynamic tales revolved around parties thrown in her New York apartment unit, situated so high up that she placed drinks and food on each stair landing for guests lacking the stamina for the entire climb. But the tale dropping jaws involved loaning her typewriter at a book-publishing job to office mate and American writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr. whenever his broke down and was sent to the shop, even if she did know how to fix it.
Her most recent career, a journalist at the Danville Register & Bee for 11 years, involved chasing down city councilmen for quotes on the latest budget vote, snapping photos at ribbon cuttings of the newest business in the River District and hanging in the summer heat to call in snippets about an escaped jail inmate.
Even with a trove of bylines and awards to her name, her Register & Bee fame revolves around winning her battle against cancer in 2017, which included bouts of chemotherapy, a myriad of hats and wigs and a victorious return to relieved coworkers.
Mrs. Thibodeau is preceded in death by her husband Percy Thibodeau, who passed away November 14, 2003. The pair met while she lived in Maine.
She is survived by sisters Lisa Mellin, of Orlando, Florida, and Wendy Evans, of Princeton, Louisiana; daughter Amanda Fulton, of Danville, Virginia; nieces Cari Mellin, of Orlando, Florida, and Becky Jones, of Princeton, Louisiana; cousins David Robbins, of Biloxi, Mississippi, and Gayle Pietrzak, of Sun City, Florida; and many other family members who will miss her.
A memorial service for Mrs. Thibodeau will be conducted Saturday, September 8, 2018, at 3 p.m.at Swicegood Funeral Home, 564 West Main St., Danville, Virginia.
A Celebration of Life service will follow at 5 p.m. at Crema & Vine at 1009 Main St., Danville, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Southside Virginia Wildlife Center, P.O. Box 11854, Danville, Virginia, 24543.
Swicegood Funeral Service is respectfully serving the Thibodeau family.