WADESBORO - Jennie Lee (Tyson) Thomas, beloved mother and grandmother, passed into eternal life on Sunday, January 22, 2023 in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The daughter of Ethel and Merritt Pearl Tyson, Jennie was born in Ansonville, North Carolina on June, 25, 1931. Jennie grew up in Ansonville, where she and her husband, Louis Gray Thomas, started their family and lived until 1957 when they moved to Wadesboro.
Jennie was well known for her culinary skills as well as for her magical touch in her garden. Though she never shied away from a difficult recipe, and made the most wonderful desserts, she was also a master of every day home cooking. To have dinner at the Thomas home was always a treat. However, Jennie’s most impressive work was more visible to all passersby: her yard and garden at her home in Wadesboro. Over a period of 60 years, Jennie cultivated her flowers, the vast majority of which were started from cuttings, bulbs, and “extras” from her friends, family, and neighbors. She never saw a flower in which she could not find virtue. While Jennie felt that her gardens were her place of solace, others viewed it as her canvas, and what a work of art she created!
In Wadesboro, Jennie worked for 30 years as a Service Representative at Alltel. While she remained a loyal member of All Souls Episcopal Church in Ansonville (serving as Treasurer for many years), she also attended Calvary Episcopal Church in Wadesboro where she sang in the choir and belonged to the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) group. Jennie is remembered by her children as their rock, always strong, reliable, and determined. Certainly she balanced her work and other home demands, but first and foremost she cared for her children; she was fiercely determined to protect them and never failed to remind them how much they were loved. Jennie’s love and support extended to her larger family as well. Nothing pleased her more than to host her extended family Christmas Eve dinners, complete with extensive decorations and, of course, a meal that only Jennie could prepare. This event became known by the family as “Jennie’s Super Bowl.”
Friends remember Jennie as a beautifully dressed, perfectly accessorized, good natured woman who was never drawn into the drama that life in a small town could bring. She was genuine and uncomplaining, looked for the best in a situation, and paid no attention to naysayers. Jennie was truly one who chose to “bloom where you are planted.” Yet, she had a strong will and was intensely loyal, not only to her family, but to God, and to North Carolina basketball. During a particularly close UNC basketball game, Jennie was known to become so anxious that she would vacuum ferociously rather than sit still and wait for the outcome.
It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to the wonderful lady we know as Mother, Ganny, Jennie-Baby, Jennie Wren, Skinny Jennie, and Muh. Yet we rejoice in knowing that she lived well, and that she is again with those who have gone before and whom she has missed so much. Jennie was preceded in death by her husband, Louis; her brothers, Marvin Tyson, Buddy Tyson, Grover Tyson (infant) and Leo Tyson of Ansonville, Harold Tyson of Laurel Hill, and Robert “Shorty” Tyson of Wadesboro; her sisters, Mattie Tyson Gaddy of Wadesboro and Alice Tyson Moehler of Rockingham. She is survived by her sister, Ella Tyson Hargett of Wingate; her children, Louis G. “Pete” Thomas, Jr. of Wadesboro, Merritt Russel “Rusty” Thomas of Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, and Janice Thomas “Jan” (Greg) Williams of Raleigh; and her grandchildren, Thomas (Kayla) Williams and Connor Williams of Raleigh.
A memorial service will be held at Calvary Episcopal Church in Wadesboro on Sunday, January 29, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.
In honor of Jennie’s commitment to the Church, the family requests that no flowers be sent; instead any memorial contributions can be made to the Calvary Episcopal Women (“Calvary ECW,” c/o Calvary Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 942, Wadesboro, NC 28170).
The arrangements are in care of Leavitt Funeral Home and online condolences may be made at www.leavittfh.com
The family respectfully requests those in attendance wear a mask due to COVID.