A Life Lived: Nancy Jane Thomas never grew old at heart, was always up for an adventure

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Nancy Jane Thomas was described by her children as a Proverbs 31 woman. “When teaching, she got up every morning at 5:30 to have her daily devotions and to pray for each of her children and grandchildren and for others in her life,” said Katherine Hooten, one of three daughters. “After retirement, she and and dad did their devotions together, but not at 5:30 a.m.,” Katherine was quick to add.
In addition to Katherine, Nancy Jane was mother to Sandy Blowers, Kim King, and sons, Bob, Doug, and John Thomas. She also had several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert “Bud” Thomas, who was the love of her life and together they shared so many fun experiences.
Nancy Jane, a long-time teacher at Harold McCormick School, died May 5 at the age of 92.
She graduated from East Tennessee State Teachers College with a degree in home economics, but after her children were all in school, she went back to school and earned her teaching degree. With the exception of one year, Nancy Jane spent her entire teaching career at Harold McCormick School. “She loved her students, and highly respected and loved the teachers and principal at Harold McCormick School. They were among her dearest friends,” said Katherine.
Nancy Jane and Bud were long-time members of Memorial Presbyterian Church and were very active members, seldom missing a service.
But, there’s so much more to this woman than her church, family, and teaching.
Her family owned Kiser Funeral Home in Johnson City and they lived upstairs. And, oh the stories she could tell. In 1948, she was chosen as the second Miss Rhododendron. That was when the festival was a two-day celebration held on the mountain.
Even during their retirement years, Nancy Jane and Bud were young at heart, always looking for adventure. “When we were younger, mom would pack a picnic lunch and take us to Franklin Pool for the day. Oftentimes, she and dad would take us to Watauga Lake for an outing. I remember them jet skiing on Watauga Lake in December,” Katherine shared.
She and her siblings also remember when their parents were in their late 60s and early 70s, they would travel to the Outer Banks with kids and grandkids, and ride the waves.
Katherine recalled that in 1997 her parents traveled to Papua, New Guinea to visit her sister and family, and on the way they stopped in Australia at the Great Barrier Reef to do some snorkeling. A year later they drove and camped all the way to Alaska and through Canada and back.
“She was an awesome lady. She had a little daredevil in her, but every day with her was fun,” said Katherine.
She shared that once a month her mother and dad would get all dressed up and go to the Elizabethton Dance Club. “It was a fun time for us, too, as we ate chicken pot pie and had some some of our friends over for baby sitters,” Katherine shared.
Nancy Jane also enjoyed gardening, reading and making quilts, and she volunteered some at the Sycamore Shoals Hospital as a pink lady after retirement. She was also active in the American Cancer Society and Alzheimer Support Groups.
Katherine and her siblings remember that each day after school, her mother would come home and prepare a big supper. “She was a great cook and often she would prepare vegetables from their grandfather’s garden. She would can beans, freeze corn, make pickles. She could do it all. And after my grandmother died, my grandfather most evenings would join us for supper,” said Katherine.
Nancy Jane Thomas was a woman who loved life, lived it to the fullest, and she especially enjoyed people. She welcomed so many into her home from all over the world through acquaintances at Moody Aviation. Her daughter, Kim, married a Moody student and they served on the mission field.
“When it came to living, she did it well. My brothers and sisters and I were so blessed to have her as a mother. We knew that we were loved, and that she always had our backs. She covered us with her prayers each day. We have so many wonderful memories,” Katherine shared.
Like the Proverbs 31 woman, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Yes. Nancy Jane Thomas was a Proverbs 31 woman.

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