Martha Thomas

Obituary of Martha R. Thomas

Martha R. Thomas of Chapel Hill passed away peacefully on Monday, July 05, 2021.


Martha was born May 09, 1928 in Winston-Salem, NC, and spent her childhood in Stokes County, NC, where she enjoyed exploring her natural surroundings and worked as her father’s right hand, raising tobacco to support the family in the years following the great depression. She loved learning, and was valedictorian of her high school class in Pine Hall, NC. She was an independent woman, electing to attend Lees-McCrae college at a time when it was not encouraged and resources were few. Most of her career was spent in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, helping residents and fellows through the administrative challenges of their training. She took great pride in her work and was honored by her colleagues for her many contributions. Martha retired in 1985 after serving as administrator for over two decades.


Martha was a hard-working, gentle woman of integrity, never faltering in her love and support for her children. She taught her family about kindness, honesty, compassion, patience, humility and determination. She loved her dogs and cats, the birds and other animals that came to visit, and all the beauty of the natural world. Her children are grateful for the gift of life she gave them, and the example she set for how to be a kind human being. Martha was married to Whit Thomas in 1950 and became part of the US Air Force, leading her growing family to reside in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Oakland, CA, Fairbanks, AK, and Savannah, GA, before finally settling in Chapel Hill, NC, which became her much loved adopted home.


Martha is survived by her four daughters: Allison T. Harden (Gary), Jean T. Carlton and Paige T. van Fleet (John) of Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC, and Julia T. Rushing of Clemmons, NC.  She is also survived by seven grandchildren: Daniel and Stacy Harden, Rodrick Edwards, Grace and Mae van Fleet, and Lindsay and Ian Rushing. Martha was predeceased by her husband C.W. Thomas, Jr., and her son Carl W. Thomas.


The family will hold a private graveside service at The Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery.


The family is being assisted by Walker's Funeral Home in Chapel Hill.

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