Her father only had a 7th-grade education, but he read all the time and gave Joanne
Thames her work ethic. Today, Thames has him to thank for giving her the drive to
succeed in a rewarding career of over 30 years in the energy industry and the past
two years in higher education. He also instilled in her a love of reading, and she
considers herself an avid reader, especially enjoying management books, mystery novels
and faith-based material.
“I was born and raised in Midland,” Thames said. “When my father was discharged from
the Navy, my parents moved to Midland and started a family. I have three brothers
and one sister. My father was a custodian at Midland ISD for 35 years, and my mother
was mostly a stay-at-home mom, but she worked for 10 years as a custodian at Midland
Memorial Hospital. I guess I am still keeping that tradition alive, as I coordinate
the contracted custodial staff at Midland College as part of my job responsibilities.”
Thames started her journey at Midland College in 1988 receiving her high school equivalency
diploma (GED®) when she was 24.
“I dropped out of high school, got married and had children,” she explained. “If
I had stayed in high school, I would have graduated from Midland High in 1982.“
In 1989, Thames was back at Midland College working toward an associate degree, which
she obtained in 1991.
“By that time, I was divorced and had two little girls, ages 5 and 2,” she said. “I
knew that I needed to get a degree to make a good life for them. It wasn’t easy,
but my daughters gave me the drive to get that degree, and in 1992, I graduated from
UTPB [University of Texas Permian Basin] with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.”
During the time that she was working on her associate and bachelor degrees, Thames
worked for a local oil and gas company and eventually became an engineering tech working
mainly in the regulatory department.
“I was laid off during the COVID pandemic and decided to turn my career in another
direction,” Thames recalled.
So, in January 2022, Midland College hired her to work in the mailroom. College administrators
soon took notice of the work ethic that her father had instilled in her, and within
a year, she received two promotions. Today, Thames is the assistant to the executive
director of Facilities & Grounds at Midland College. As such, she is responsible
for purchasing all janitorial and maintenance products, coordinates various services
with contracted companies and assists the executive director on all building and infrastructure
projects. She is also responsible for receiving and reviewing internal work orders
and then coordinating the work requests with Midland College maintenance personnel.
She schedules maintenance and custodial responsibilities for special events and generally
alleviates any problems that arise regarding maintenance and custodial areas of the
“It’s a great job,” Thames commented. “I love working with the guys in the facilities
and grounds department, and it allows me to give back to the college community that
gave so much to me. Midland College gave me the start that I needed for a promising
career and to make a good life for my daughters. I think my parents would be proud.”
Her daughters continued her example of getting an associate degree. One of her daughters
has an associate degree and is a physical therapy assistant, and the other has an
associate degree in management.
In August 2017, Thames married her husband David, who is a welder in the oil & gas
industry. Their blended family consists of 8 grown children, 15 grandchildren and
25 great-grandchildren. Vacations for Joanne and David usually center around taking
their boat to their favorite water recreation area—Lake Fork, which is northeast of
Dallas. They both have a passion for fishing. This past summer in celebration of
their fifth wedding anniversary, they spent a week in Destin and Fort Walton Beach,
FL, and they hope to be able to travel there again soon.
In her spare time, besides reading, Thames enjoys crocheting, mostly blankets for
the great-grandchildren. She also volunteers her time as a member of the leadership
team for the Midland College Alumni and Former Student Association.
“I have a wonderful life,” Thames said. “It hasn’t always been easy, but thanks to
my father’s teachings, I’ve always known that with hard work and perseverance, I would
be able to succeed.”