Ruth Naomi THOMAS
1921 - 2017
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THOMAS, Ruth Naomi Ruth Naomi Wilson Thomas was born on February 15, 1921 in Lynchburg, South Carolina to Claude and Maggie Wilson. The eldest of four children (two of whom are deceased), Ruth grew up on the family farm as an active member of the Presbyterian Church. She received her B.C. degree in Home Economics from Barber? Scotia Junior College in Concord, NC. Mrs. Thomas was a born educator whose teaching career began in 1943 and continued for many years. In 1945, she married James Samuel Thomas, and the couple moved to Atlanta. In 1951, Mrs. Thomas enrolled in graduate classes at Cornell while her husband pursued his Ph.D. degree and, after a brief return to Atlanta, the family moved to Nashville, TN in 1953 when her husband accepted a position with the then-Methodist church. In 1964, Rev. Dr. James Thomas was elected Bishop of the United Methodist Church and made church history with his assignment to the previously all-white conference of Iowa. In 1976 Bishop Thomas was appointed to the East Ohio area until 1988, when he retired from the episcopacy. As the wife and partner of the bishop and in her own right, Mrs. Thomas balanced speaking engagements, conferences, world travel, spiritual retreats, hosting of events, and many other activities with motherhood. She did so with profound grace and apparent ease. Now in "retirement," Mrs. Thomas remained active in United Methodist and community programs while her husband taught at SMU in Dallas (1988-1992) and at Emory University in Atlanta (1992-1996). Her greatest gifts were the love, nurturing, joy, and insight that she so generously shared with others. Mrs. Thomas is survived by three daughters: Gloria, Margaret, and Patricia; four grandchildren: Ramona, Sarita, Ashley, and Christopher; and one great-granddaughter, Zayia. Through Gloria's marriage to Thomas Pillow, the Thomases acquired two other grandchildren-Shantell and Thomas Pillow Ill (Trey), great? granddaughter, Raven, and great-great grandson, Ashton. Mrs. Thomas is also survived by younger sister Alethia Elreita George, niece Alicia George, and Alicia's children Samaria and Sy IV, all of Pittsburgh. Her beloved husband of 65 years and her eldest daughter Claudia predeceased her in 2010 and 2011, respectively. In addition to other cousins, nieces, nephews. and other relatives, Mrs. Thomas's life was profoundly enriched by a huge extended family of loving friends, many of whom call her "Mama Ruth." Visitation is at Gus Thornhill Funeral Home on Monday, January 23, from 6-7 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, January 24 at 11:00 a.m. at Cascade United Methodist Church at 3144 Cascade Road, SW.

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Published in Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23, 2017.
06:00 - 07:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
January 28, 2017
Dear Gloria, Margaret and Patricia,

Praying your faith in God is comforting you and giving each of you and all your family members peace. Know that as your grief recedes your wonderful memories will draw closer.

I and many others are grateful for those opportunities to share time and space with Mrs. Thomas.

Stay strong in the Lord.
Carolyn Anderson
January 26, 2017
To my extended family; Bishop Thomas and Ruth along with Gloria, Margaret and Patricia were an intricate part of the Colston family. The first 2 African American families to move to Urbandale IA and so many more wonderful experiences we shared together. I am deeply saddened not to be able to talk to Ruth onthe phone, but I know she is definately in a better place. God Bless and we will stay in touch!!!!

Frances Colston
Frances Colston
January 24, 2017
Dear Patricia and family,
We remember your dear mother with great respect and admiration and mourn her passing. Your parents' time in East Ohio (and yours too--we remember your lovely organ work and sweet spirit) constituted such meaningful years in the life of the church and we will never forget the impact of their faithful servant leadership. You will remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Dan and Lorinda Church
Daniel K. Church
January 24, 2017
From another Gloria Thomas: I knew Ruth and James while they were in Dallas and worshipped with us at University Park UMC. She was in a Disciple 1 class that I taught and she gifted us all with her knowledge, her love, and her abundant joy. Blessings on all of you. She was a blessing to so many.
Gloria Thomas
January 24, 2017
Gloria, I am sorry for the loss of your mother. I know how much you and your sisters loved and cared for her. As you spoke often of her it reminds me of how kind and encouraging Mrs. Thomas was when we were young schoolmates growing up. I learned much from her and have never forgotten. May you and your family find comfort through the Love and Grace of God Almighty. With love and compassion I remain Hiwatha.
Hiwatha Greene-Janvier
January 24, 2017
To the Thomas family;
Our sincerest condolences go out to you. Your Mom used to always ask why at almost half her age, my husband Thomas and I seemed to gravitate toward her. The best answer is that the God in us recognized and adored the God in her. The wisdom she always imparted and the Grace she always exuded were hard to not just want to be in the presence of. Thank you for sharing her with us. We can truly say that it was a Pleasure and outright Honor to have known the beauty that existed in Your Mom.
Teresa and Thomas Carthron
Teresa Carthron
January 23, 2017
Gloria and Family,
You are in my prayers. May God give you comfort, strength and peace during this transitioning time of your Mom.

In Sympathy and Much Love,
Semetta Coure
January 23, 2017
my condolences for your loss.

1 Thess.4:14
January 23, 2017

Dear Patricia, Margaret and Gloria
and extended Family of Ruth Thomas ~

I want to express my deep sorrow to you over the loss of your beloved mother, Ruth.
In memory of Ruth, having enriched so many through her example, leadership and love, I send my deepest sympathy and hold each of you in prayer asking that God will grant you grace and peace.


Bishop Frank J. Beard
Frank J. Beard
January 23, 2017
My prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
January 19, 2017
We are saddened to hear of the loss of one so dear to many. We offer our love and prayers to each of you.
Bryon and Josefa Bethea Wall
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