In Memory

Nell Thomas


The voice challenging students to strive above and beyond was silenced Sunday, with the death of Nell Henry Thomas.

Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, April 1, 2010 at First United Methodist Church. She died Sunday, March 28, 2010 at her home in Greenville. Burial will be in Moorhead Cemetery under the direction of Boone-Wells Funeral Home. The Reverend Brad Hodges will officiate, assisted by Reverend David Rhea.

Mrs. Thomas was born March 15, 1916, in Moorhead, Mississippi, predeceased by parents, John William Henry and Orrie West Henry, and four brothers, Bill Henry, Jack Henry, Hardy Henry, Vic Henry; and husband, Charles S. (Chuck), Thomas, Sr.

Survivors include son, Chuck Thomas, Jr. (Mary Ann), Greenville, Mississippi, daughters, Ann Thomas Diehl, Rockville, Indiana, Vicki Thomas Hartman, Clinton, Mississippi, and Bill Thomas Weidemann (Bruce), Bentonville, Arkansas; nine grandchildren, great and great-great grands a gracious plenty.

Mrs. Thomas graduated from Clarksdale High School, later attending Sunflower Jr. College, Delta State University, B.S.; University of Mississippi, M.A. (according to Jennifer Ford in Special Collections at J. B. Williams Library, the earliest thesis on record written at Ole Miss on William Faulkner); and Triple A Certificate (30 hours beyond the Masters).

Her teaching career spanned 36 years, including Yazoo City High School, Winona High School, E.E. Bass High School, and Greenville High School where she was Chairman of the English Department for 26 years.

Her talents and honors are vast and varied which include: Past President of the Greenville Department of Classroom Teachers and the Greenville Education Association; Past President of the State Department of Classroom Teachers and the Mississippi Education Association; Chairman of the Resolutions Committee of the Department of Classroom Teachers of the National Education Association; one of ten Department Chairman to prepare for National Council Teachers of English a handbook for organizing, administering, and supervising English departments; reader for College Board English Composition Test and Advanced Placement Test as well as National Assessment of Educational Progress writing and reading test; co-author of literature series ‚Äì Echoes of the Southland; one of seven-member committee that drafted the first literature test for College Board; presented program on William Faulkner and Eudora Welty at the 1986 convention of the National Council of Teachers of English; member of Mississippi Congress of the Parents and Teachers Board of Managers and First Vice President; member of First United Methodist Church, teacher of Homemakers Class, past Superintendent of the Church School, Past Chairman of Council on Ministries, coordinator of Adult Activities, and instrumental in development of Archives and Historical Rooms of Church; past member of Delta Branch of Mississippi Pen Women; past member of Foundation Board, Delta State University; Foundation Board, Mississippi Delta Community College; Past President and Campaign Chairman of Greenville United Way; past member and Secretary Board of Trustees of Greenville Municipal Separate School District; past Parliamentarian of the State School Board Convention; wrote the history of the First United Methodist Church in Greenville; "This Is Our Story‚ This is Our Song"; wrote the history of Kings Daughters Hospital in Greenville; "A Century of Serving"; received the first Tobias Gibson Award for outstanding work coordinating materials and activities celebrating the centennial birth of Methodism in Mississippi; charter member of Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma; First Vice President of Zeta State; President of Lambda Chapter; Alumna of the Year, Delta State University, second year of program recognition; Mississippi Teacher of the Year and runner-up to National Teacher of the Year; Woman of Achievement ‚ Greenville Business and Professional Women's Club; Woman of Achievement Lambda Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma; member of Omicron Delta Kappa, tapped the first year Delta State admitted women; Queen of the Greenville Jr. Auxiliary Ball; Golden Deeds Awards by the Greenville Exchange Club, first woman to be honored; on May 2, 2009, presented with: a Proclamation by the Governor recognizing this day and date as Nell Thomas Day in the state of Mississippi, along with a Concurrent Resolution issued by the Mississippi Legislature commending the professional and civic contributions of respected educator Nell H. Thomas, and a Nell Thomas Endowed Scholarship at Delta State University to continue in perpetuity her legacy of outstanding classroom teaching; as a national consultant for McDougal, Littell & Company, an Evanston, Illinois based publishing house specializing in composition, grammar, and literature books, Mrs. Thomas concluded her professional career.

The family is indebted to Drs. Leon Lenoir and Michael Cirilli of Greenville for their medical expertise regarding the health and welfare of their mother; also, Drs. Pierce Dotherow, Glenn Herrington, and James Fly, all of Jackson; DRMC, Hospice Team, Diane, Trudy, Sandy, Gayla, and Regina. A heartfelt THANK YOU to caregiver Louise Gray (seven years) for her devotion, patience, understanding, and especially being mother's avid sports companion.

Pallbearers are grandsons Charles Samuel Thomas, III, Alan Thomas Diehl, Peter Kristian Diehl, Jr., Michael Leroy Galyean, Jr., Bruce Edward Weidemann, Jr., and John Luther Hartman, Jr.

Honorary Pallbearers are the Christian Homemakers Class, Dr. Leon Lenoir, and Dr. Michael Cirilli.

The family will receive friends from 12-1 p.m., Thursday, April 1, 2010 at First United Methodist Church.

Memorials may be made to Archives Room, First United Methodist Church, 402 Washington Avenue, Greenville, Mississippi 38701, or contributions to Nell Thomas Endowed Scholarship Fund, Delta State University Foundation, P.O. Box 3141, Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi 38733.