Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 18, 2013

Mary Beth Wood Thomas

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — She was born to Sparrel Abe Wood and Caryl Dean McMorrow Wood on December 7, 1921 in Bluefield, W.Va. The bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred on her eighteenth birthday. The following year she met a handsome, gifted, and established young musician, Paul C. Thomas, Jr., at a dance. Her life path and journey was completely altered by World War II, as happened to everyone during those very difficult years in our country's history. Mary Beth married Paul, a new Army recruit, on May 5, 1943, and shared her life with him for the next 50 years. The couple first lived in Little Rock, Ark., on an army base, and soon returned home to Bluefield. Paul left for the invasion of Europe as part of the infantry in the spring of 1944, shortly after the birth of their first child. Mary Beth lived in Bluefield for the rest of her life, except for three years in Richmond, Va., in the mid 50s.

Mary Beth grew up in Bluefield and attended school at Whitethorn Elementary, Fairview Junior, and Beaver High School. She began her college studies at Bluefield College in 1941, graduating with an Associates Degree in December 1942.  In the 60s, with her four children in school, she achieved her Bachelors degree at Bluefield State College, and also obtained a Masters degree in psychology from Radford University in 1972. She taught history at Graham Junior High School for many years. Mary Beth was involved in various garden and book clubs throughout her life, including the McGuffey Book Club. She was an extremely loyal and active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Bluefield for almost 70 years, and spearheaded any number of projects that involved thousands of hours of exquisite and detailed handwork. These beautiful works of art will live on in the sanctuary as a reminder of her devotion to this important community in her life and her strong faith in God.

But there was nothing in the world that mattered more to Mary Beth than her family. She was always deeply connected to all of her extended families throughout her very full life, and was a most devoted mother to four children and four grandchildren. She was the primary caregiver for her own parents as well as her husband's parents during the 1980s, who all lived in Bluefield and well into their nineties, and she also cared for her husband throughout a long illness until his death in January of 1995. She was renowned for her sharp mind, her love of history, music, dancing and storytelling, and her loving and generous spirit throughout her life. She affected the lives of so many and she will be profoundly missed.

Family left to cherish her memory are sons, Paul C. Thomas III and wife Bobbi Sue Bales, Stephen P. Thomas, all of Bluefield, W.Va., Bruce A. Thomas and wife Gail of Stow, Mass., daughter Caryl Beth Thomas and husband Jacobus van-Loon of Hyde Park, Mass.,, daughter-in-law Connie Thomas of Lewisburg, W.Va. Her grandsons are Micah Leigh Wood Thomas of Asheville, N.C., Shaun Paul Thomas of Los Angeles, Calif., Kellan Campbell Thomas of Brighton, Mass., and Jess Christian Thomas of Stow, Mass.

Memorial services will be held at the First Presbyterian Church on Friday, July 19 at 3 p.m. Internment will be a small family service at Monte Vista Cemetery earlier in the day. In lieu of flowers, remembrances should be sent to the First Presbyterian Church Music Fund, 208 Tazewell Ave., Bluefield, WV, 24701.

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Mercer Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the family of Mary Beth Thomas family.