Elaine Berniece Gibson Thomas, 88, passed away on Wednesday, October 29.
She was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Cecil and Irene Cobb Gibson. When she was three, her father moved her family to a ranch south of Gordon, Nebraska, where he took up ranching. She graduated from Gordon High School in Gordon, Nebraska, in 1943 and from Colorado Women’s College in Denver in 1945.
She worked in Denver for Continental Airlines as a junior stenographer until June 1946, married Orrin Westley Thomas Jr. in the Gordon Presbyterian Church in Gordon, Nebraska, on August 9, 1946, and moved to Gainesville, Florida, where he started attending the University of Florida.
Orrin moved around in his work as a mechanical engineer, and Elaine went where ever his work took him. They finally moved to Oak Ridge in 1960 when he went to work at X-10 for Union Carbide. She went back to work in 1962 for a doctor who raised mice for research and then at AEC-Atomic Energy Commission (now DOE-Department of Energy). She retired in 1989 after 22 years.
After retiring, she and Orrin moved to Nebraska to be with her parents until they passed away. Then they moved to Lake Alfred, Florida, to live in Orrin’s parent’s home. They lived there for 12 years until they each had a stroke and then moved back to Knoxville to be near family. Elaine was an active member of her church, the Lions Club, the Gideons International, their dance club, and her Bridge club. Elaine was well-loved by all who met her.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband of 65 years, Orrin.
Elaine leaves behind five children, Janet and Tony McGuire of Knoxville, Karen and Bob Mabry of Overland Park, Kansas, Peggy and Jerry Johnson of Souldbyville, California, Kathy Suttles of Auburndale, Florida, and David and Bobbie Jo Thomas of Lenoir City. She also leaves behind nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
The family will receive friends Monday, November 3, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Martin Oak Ridge Funeral Home. A service will follow at 2 p.m. officiated by the Reverend James Henry of Central Baptist Church of Bearden, with burial following at Oak Ridge Memorial Park. Serving as pall bearers are David Thomas, David Eubanks, Joshua Daugherty, Jaeland Lawson, Tadd Davis, and Shaun Herron.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent to Gideons International, P.O. Box 31511, Knoxville, TN, 37930-1511, or Autumn Care Assisted Living, 3222 Byington Beaver Ridge Road, Knoxville, TN 37931.