Family, friends and community gathered in the Whitaker Chapel United Methodist Church fellowship hall Sunday afternoon to join in wishing local resident Bertha Thomas a happy 100th birthday.
Thomas, who resides in the Whitaker Chapel community, is in good health and was in a festive mood throughout the afternoon.
A native of Cana, Virginia, she grew up to marry the late Robert W. Thomas. The couple had six children, two girls and four boys. Five survive today and still reside in the northwestern North Carolina and southern Virginia area, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She reached her 100th birthday on June 8.
While she had worked several public jobs in the area, her daughter, Rebecca Puckett Johnson, recalls that her mother’s main focus was always “being a wife and taking care of her family.” She loves gardening and was also well known around Pilot Mountain and beyond for her canning skills and particularly for her making of fried apple pies. The popular pies are still much in demand today.
Thomas has been an active part of Whitaker Chapel United Methodist Church for several decades. On Sunday, the church’s United Methodist Women honored her with a “Missions Recognition” for her service to the church and her contributions to countless missions projects. She received a pin and a letter recognizing a donation made in her name to National United Methodist Women.
According to a nephew, Gary Cox, Thomas is perhaps best known for her willingness to help others.
“She takes the time to talk you through problems,” he explained. “She really listens and then she helps however she can. And she is always smiling.”
When asked about the secret to her longevity, Thomas offered a smile and a ready answer. “You need to be smart and depend on the Lord.”
Then she quickly added to her response.
“There is no secret to a long life,” she said. “I’ve been blessed.”