Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mom. Nana. Grandma. Aunt Gloria. Friend.

Gloria D. Thomas died at her home surrounded by family on March 30, 2009 at the age of 81. The daughter of Elwyn and Leota, Gloria was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 17, 1927. An outstanding dancer in her youth, she also excelled as a student advancing two grades in grammar school to begin high school at age 12. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, MI at the age of 16. Married at 19 to her children’s father, Dr. Donald S. Welch, she was also a member of Zeta Chi sorority graduating with a BA in Education in 1948 at the age of 20. Gloria valued education all her life and began her career by teaching fourth grade in Des Moines, IA from 1948 - 1951. After moving to Phoenix in 1966 she was active at her children’s school as room mother and PTA member. She campaigned and was elected to the Scottsdale School Board serving from 1972 -1976 including a term as President. She later taught 4th - 6th grade Title 1 Reading and Math students at Tonalea Elementary School in Scottsdale, and served as the Title 1 Coordinator until her retirement.

A dedicated and active member of the Presbyterian Church all her life, Gloria volunteered in a wide variety of ways at both Historic First Presbyterian Church and Valley Presbyterian Church here in the Phoenix area. Whether planning a social event or silent auction, leading a Bible study or assisting the minister with a youth confirmation class, serving on planning committees, bereavement committees, or Cook’s Tour committees, Gloria was a faithful servant of God and her church. She also served as an ordained ruling elder of Valley Presbyterian church. Her practical wisdom, thoughtful insight, and generous hands-on help contributed greatly wherever she served. She actively supported the Christian activities of her teenage children by hosting many a church youth group swim party, inner city children’s parties, and Young Life meetings. Possessing a beautiful singing voice, Gloria was a faithful choir member at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Detroit and Historic First Presbyterian Church in Phoenix for over 30 years, participating in many outstanding productions including The Nativity and Handel’s Messiah conducted and directed by her beloved and gifted husband, Dr. George F. Thomas, Minister of Music, who preceded her in death in 1997.

Gloria is survived by her three children and their spouses, two stepsons and their spouses, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandson. We are grateful to have been given such a beautiful and giving woman as our loving mother, mother-in-law, and adoring Nana and Grandma.

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