SHELBY- Jerry Leon Toms, lovingly known as "Leon", of 2305 Marlowe Avenue, Shelby, departed this life on Oct. 1, 2013, at Carolina Medical Center in Charlotte after a brief illness. Leon was born on Aug. 31, 1950, in Shelby, and was the youngest son of the late Oliver Lee Toms and Easdale Carouthers Toms.
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Leon was among the first five black students to integrate Shelby Jr. High School in 1964. While attending Shelby High School, he excelled in track, setting several records that remain unbroken. His achievements on the field earned him a scholarship to A&T University in Greensboro. He was a member of the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity and graduated from A&T University with a degree in political science.
While in New York, Leon performed and recorded with a group called Something Special. After working in New York and California for years, Leon decided to settle back home in Shelby. He joined and became active in Rhema Faith Church. While in a prayer circle, he met the woman who would become his wife, Lynn Griffin. Together they worked faithfully for the church and ministered to many people.
He was also an active member of Family Life Worship Center in Kings Mountain, and sang on the praise and worship team. Leon had the gift of a beautiful voice. He and his late wife, Lynn, continued their service to others by sheltering those who needed help. His activities in another church involved accompanying a mission group to Russia. Leon and Lynn also established and successfully operated Toms Cleaning Service for many years.
When Leon was faced to raise his two young sons alone, he did so with pride. You could not ask for a more supportive parent. Leon travelled many miles to his sons' football and basketball events, and enjoyed the celebration of their accomplishments. He often shared with his family about the accomplishments of his daughters. He was a big Panthers fan and loved to talk sports. He loved writing, especially poems and songs. He loved working with his hands and building things. He was a man of many unsung talents. And oh, how he loved to laugh!
Leon was a caring and unassuming person, never confrontational and believed in helping others. He mentored several youth in the neighborhood, encouraging them to stay in school, pursue their goals and better their lives. The family learned at the time of his death that he was an organ donor and his last act of giving was to enrich and save the lives of many others.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Lynn Toms; and brother, Ben Toms.
Left to cherish fond memories are his daughters, Cherie Shepherd of Charlotte, Demetria Goode of Herndon, Va.; two sons, Michael Leon Toms and Matthew Kyle Toms of Shelby; three brothers, Willis Toms (Carol) of Charlotte, Ervin (Ellen) of Calabash, and Gary Toms of Gaithersburg, Md.; one sister, LaMarthine Gibson of Kings Mountain; three aunts, Nancy Hall of Washington, D.C., Sarah Carouthers and Lallage Carouthers, both of Shelby; a devoted friend, Kimberly Smith of Kings Mountain; and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Visitation: The family will receive friends from 12 to 1 p.m. Monday at the church, and at other times at the home of his sister, LaMarthine Gibson, 209 Kaitlyn Lane, Kings Mountain.
Funeral Service: 1 p.m. Monday at Family Life Worship Center, Kings Mountain
Officiated By: Pastor Roger Woodard
Funeral Home: Enloe Mortuary is serving the family
Online Condolences: www.enloes.net
231 North. Lafayette Street
Shelby, NC 28150
Published in Shelby Star on Oct. 6, 2013