Cover photo for Donna Elaine Thomas's Obituary
Donna Elaine Thomas Profile Photo

Donna Elaine Thomas

d. January 31, 2022


Mrs. Donna Elaine Thomas passed away peacefully with her close family with her on January 31, 2022. Donna was born November 14 to the late Charles Torran and Gonzell Torran Bolden in Chicago, IL where she received her early education in the public school system. She accepted Christ at an early age and was united with the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

After deciding to move to Nashville to enlarge her job preparation, she enrolled in Volunteer Community College for one year where she made straight A’s. She then transferred to Tennessee State University (formerly Tennessee A&I College) with a major in Elementary Education where she subsequently graduated Cum Laude. The Metropolitan Schools hired Donna swiftly to teach reading, English and test-taking skills to adults who were weak in comprehension skills. She was with the Adult Education Program for 9 years. Tennessee State heard about her unique approach to teaching adult comprehension skills – teaching skills using the reading of novels. Colleges from coast to coast invited Donna and her colleagues to come to conventions and explain how this technique motivated adults; the group’s theme was “A Novel Approach to Teaching Reading.” This group traveled thousands of miles for over ten years exciting education groups with standing applause.

Donna was named Teacher of the Year by her students and colleagues two consecutive years during her coast-to-coast lectures. She was honored by her department head giving her the status of Tennessee Professor in the Department of Education. She earned a Masters’ Degree in Education in 1995 and completed all required course work towards the Doctor of Education except finishing the writing of her dissertation. She retired in 2014 after 25 years of teaching at Tennessee State University, her beloved alma mater. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Pi Zeta -Nashville Chapter. She served as Chapter Advisor – Epsilon Alpha Chapter during her tenure at Tennessee State University.

She was preceded in death by a son, Darrell Thomas and sister, Jozelle Williams.

Donna is survived by her husband of 51 years, Jackie Thomas-truly the love of her life. If you saw them often enough one could readily see this couple loved each other. People asked them the secret of a successful marriage which they both would reply trust and communication every day. She leaves to cherish her memory and love: three daughters, Jetone Wheeler, Marian Smith and Dezoral (Sterling) Jenkins; three sons, Ronald Thomas, Joseph (Ann) Thomas and Warren (Wilbrena) Thomas; a lifetime of devoted cousins the Durr’s: Brenda, Gregory, Michael and Herald Chip Johnson; and 17 devoted grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. Special family: Carl Demonbreum, Dr. Ben Washington, Dr. Jeff Thompson, Rev. Joann Moore, Tina McLaurine, Christine Craig, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Holmes, Dorothea McMiller, Miesheia Robertson and many more devoted friends and students too many to dare attempt to list; and the many sons and daughters who called her Mama D. She will be fondly remembered and truly missed by thousands of people who crossed her path and loved her dearly.

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