NEWPORT NEWS - Jacqueline Lee Thomas Thomas of Newport News, Va., died peacefully on Dec. 6, 2012, in her home with her family by her side.
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Jacki was born on Oct. 29, 1938, but the year is a bit confusing since she often fibbed about that part. She was the only child of Dorothy and Gilmer Thomas, two spitfires full of laughter just like their daughter. She grew up in Radford, Va., and had a fondness for those mountains throughout her life. After moving to Suffolk in 1954, she worked with her father at his Roses store, she went on volunteer fire calls with him, and learned to cook and play pranks from her mother. After graduating from Suffolk High School, she left what she called "the greatest childhood ever" to attend Westhampton College, now The University of Richmond. It was here that she met the love of her life and afterlife, Jake Thomas. Theirs was a love affair that traveled the globe and went deeper than any ocean. After marrying, they moved to Newport News where they enjoyed more adventures and travels than most couples could ever possibly dream of.
Jacki was a consummate teacher for many years at South Morrison, Trinity Lutheran and Mayberry Elementary. She prided herself on every student's accomplishments in the classroom and in life. Her classrooms were alive. Her methods were progressive. And her impact was profound. She was in touch with many of her students until the day she died. She always said her students gave more to her than she did to them.
She loved her community and was very involved in starting the BRICKS program, being a scouts leader, campaigning with local politicians, being a member of the Junior League, Peninsula Fine Arts Center and Huntington Garden Club.
But the energy that fueled Jacki's life most was her family. Her husband, daughters, grandchild and son in-law brought her warmth, joy, laughs, jokes, escapades, inspiration, amazement and love. And she gave it right back. Ten fold. Her family always came first, no matter what. Her extended family of friends brought so much color and vibrancy to her life that she was never without a story. Whether she was snipe hunting or riding waves at the beach or traveling for visits, Jacki cherished what she called "the best set of friends God ever did make."
Jacki is survived by her husband, James B. Thomas Jr.; her daughters, Christen Elaine Thomas, of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Sherin Thomas Lawson (husband, Joseph Rogers Lawson); and her granddaughter, Harper Thomas Lawson. Harper was the sparkle in Jacki's eye.
The funeral is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Following the service, there will be a reception at the James River Country Club. Arrangements by Peninsula Funeral Home.
Special thanks to Dr. Kelly Marcom and Dr. John Mattern who cured her once and kept her twice.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to: Duke Cancer Institute, For: Dr. Kelly Marcom Research, DUMC Box 3828, Durham NC 27710 or Virginia Living Museum, 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News VA 23601.
She was a devoted wife to one. A giving mother to two. A magical grandmother to one. And a gracious friend to everyone. She saw the good in everyone and was a champion of forgiveness. She loved God's world and she loved her life within it. "She will be missed" doesn't even begin to capture it. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.
Published in Daily Press from Dec. 7 to Dec. 8, 2012