BATAVIA – When Thaddeus Tousana moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates last summer, where his wife, Aliya, had secured a schoolteaching position, it was the beginning of a new venture for the family, Ruth Tousana of Batavia, his mother, said.
But a few months later, complications from a flare up of his Type 1 diabetes found him in intensive care at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a multispecialty hospital, she said. Thaddeus Tousana, 49, was hospitalized Jan. 5 and died three weeks later.
Services have been set for Feb. 10 at Logan Street Baptist Church, 908 N. River St., Batavia, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m., followed by a celebration of life.
He was a third-generation Batavian said his mother, a former teacher at Alice Gustafson Elementary School in the Batavia School District. Thaddeus Tousana, a 1986 graduate of Batavia High School, worked for the same district. She said he assisted students with special needs at the elementary school level. Most recently, he served as second-grade assistant at St. Martin's Episcopal School in Atlanta.
During his hospitalization, his family started a GoFundMe campaign to help bring him home to the United States. Community members described his giving and joyful spirit as they supported the campaign, and as of Feb. 2, the active site showed $30,932 of a $65,000 goal had been raised at gofundme.com/bringthadhome.
During his final illness, Ruth Tousana said two of Thaddeus Tousana's five children, Jessica and Courtney, had been at his side along with his wife. They had moved to Abu Dhabi together last year.
The page's photo of Thaddeus Tousana was taken at a basketball court, and sports have always been part of his life, his mother said.
"He coached the girls basketball and boys basketball teams in Georgia," she said. "He played sports when he went to school here in Batavia [and] he ran a basketball program for children way back through the park district. He's always been involved with the community."
He was a graduate of Aurora University, his mom said.
"He is the type of person that just [never] met any strangers and [had] lots of friends," she said.
Helping with the fundraising drive they dubbed "Bring Thaddeus Home" was cousin Crystal Tousana.
"We love Thaddeus so much and [wanted] him to be here surrounded by family and friends," she said in an email.
Gatherings have spurred remembrances.
"Thad was just a great person – altogether he devoted his life to Christ and his family," longtime friend Reuben Grissette Jr. of Batavia said. "He was very giving. He went [overseas] to teach children the English language and American culture. That man took strides to make the world a better place all around the world."
Handling funeral arrangements is James Funeral Service in Aurora.