Soyrietta E. Thomas
Birth date: December 24, 1921
Death date: March 26, 2012
Soyrietta E. Thomas, 90, of Mount Vernon passed away at her home on March 26. She was born Dec. 24, 1921 in Cashiers, North Carolina to Elbert and Octavia Brown Bumgarner. She married Neal Bryson in 1936. They later divorced. After World War II, she and her son Tom moved to Oregon where she met Philip Thomas of West Branch. They married in 1948 and moved back to West Branch where she lived until moving to Iowa City in 1986. She was a house mother at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at the University of Iowa for 18 years. She continued to correspond with several former members of the fraternity throughout her life and often spoke with great pride of the young men she had met at the Fiji house.
In 2010, she moved to Mount Vernon to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Dixie Collins and Steve Maravetz. In addition to Dixie, Soyrietta is survived by sons Tom Bryson (Joan) of Northville, MI, and Scott Thomas (Jane) of Claremore, OK; her grandchildren Anna Coulter, Michelle Bryson, Heather Collins, Jessica Lang, Aaron Collins, Amy Thomas, Emily Wilkerson, Sarah Jennings, and 11 great-grandchildren. She also has beloved nieces and many cousins in the Carolinas.
Throughout her adult life, Soyrietta enjoyed traveling, especially to visit family in North Carolina and Michigan. When she was 89, she took an RV trip to North Carolina with her son Tom and his wife Joan, and came back with many stories of visiting with her family there. She loved the Lake of the Ozarks and continued to visit the lake until her 90th year.
She was an avid member of the exercise group that met at the Iowa City Recreation Center and said her friends in the group were among the most wonderful people she'd ever met. She kept her mind active by reading, playing Scrabble, doing crossword puzzles and took great delight in solving puzzles on Wheel of Fortune before the contestants. She was an avid Hawkeye football fan.
She loved to listen and dance to old-time mountain music, especially that of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she grew up. Even late in life, she was known to clog a bit when she heard a good old mountain tune. There were times, especially when family was around, that her soft Carolina drawl would become more pronounced, a reminder to everyone of her roots.
During the last part of her life, Soyrietta (and her family) came to depend on the caregivers of Above and Beyond Hospice. She said many times that she had come to love the women who dropped by to see her and help her with her daily routines.
From Psalm 121
A song of ascents
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The family requests that any offerings in Soyrietta's memory be directed to Above and Beyond in Monticello.
A Memorial Service to celebrate Soyrietta's life will be held at 11 am on Saturday, May 19th at the First Street Community Center, 221 1st Street NE, Mount Vernon, IA 52314. A luncheon for family and friends will follow the service.
After the University's annual ceremony honoring those who have willed their bodies to science, the family will take Soyrietta back home to Cashiers to rest in Zachary Cemetery with five generations of relatives who preceded her in death.