Mary Anne W. Thomas: Dec. 30, 2014

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

AMERICUS — Mary Anne Warnell Thomas, 80, of Americus, Ga., died on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center. Funeral services were held Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, at Greg Hancock Funeral Chapel.

For 50 years Mary Anne Thomas was an active and well known member of the Americus and Sumter County communities. She was a leading member of civic and cultural organizations, and a lover and supporter of all the arts. She was a beloved member of the community and will be remembered for her generosity, grace and wit.

Mary Anne Thomas was born on Sept. 14, 1934, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., the only child of Willis Braxton Warnell and Mary Frances Wright Warnell. She was raised in Griffin, Ga., and in 1956 graduated from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Ga., with a bachelor of arts in English. She moved to Americus in 1956, after her marriage to Russell Thomas Jr.

Mary Anne Thomas was a patron of the arts in her community. She was a founding member of the Sumter Players and acted in many productions, including the title role in “Auntie Mame.” Her first directing award was for “You Can’t Take It with You.” She then went on to direct “Steel Magnolias” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

She was member of the Americus and Sumter County Arts Council, the Junior Service League and a supporter the GSW Chamber Concert Series. She was also a staunch supporter of the Lake Blackshear Regional Library, where she was a volunteer storyteller and participant in the Friends of the Library theater events.

In the early part of her career Mrs. Thomas was a teacher and writer. She taught at Staley Junior High School and wrote for the Americus Times-Recorder. Additionally, she was the associate editor of the Plains (Ga.) Monitor. She worked for the Andersonville Trail Society promoting tourism and then as the statewide coordinator for hospitality training. She then moved to the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade where she was the Georgia Main Street coordinator. She received many awards for her dedicated and untiring work for the preservation of Georgia’s historic downtowns, including the Golden Peach Award for Travel Industry Member of the Year in 1987.

Mrs. Thomas was a political supporter of Governor and then President Jimmy Carter. In 1971, Governor Carter appointed her to the Governor’s Council on Human Relations. A lover of opera, Mrs. Thomas delighted in the memory of hearing soprano Leontyne Price perform at the White House as the guest of President and Mrs. Carter.

She is survived by her five children, Mary Frances Thomas, wife of Mimi Pulich, of Berkeley, Calif.; Anne Camp Thomas of Americus; Russell Thomas III, husband of Angie Thomas, of Americus, Elizabeth T. Cheek, wife of James Cheek, of Leesburg, Ga.; and Braxton Thomas of Americus, Ga. She is also survived by grandchildren, Emily Anne Strickland (Michael), Sara Beth Wolcott (Derek), Mary Frances Thomas, Mestewal Thomas, Esubalow Thomas, James Thomas Cheek (Hannah), Margaret L. Cheek and Elizabeth Anne Chaplin (Brandon). She is further survived by great-grandchildren, Samantha Anne Strickland, James Titus Cheek and Jethro Thomas Cheek. She will be deeply missed by dear friends in Americus and throughout Georgia.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in honor of Mary Anne Thomas to the Sumter Players, the Lake Blackshear Regional Library, or to your favorite charity.