Gwendolyn Firebrace Thomas was born on September 10, 1921 in Montclair, NJ to the late Louise Phillips Firebrace and James A. Firebrace, Sr. She transitioned peacefully to Heaven on December 15, 2022 at the age of 101.
One of four children, she was raised in Montclair and attended Montclair Public Schools, graduating from high school in 1940. After high school, “Gwen” held various jobs before settling at I.T.T, where she met the love of her life, Leo Thomas. Gwen and Leo married in 1951. This marriage lasted until Leo’s passing in 2007. From this union two children were born, Gwenyth Louise (deceased) and Leo George, Jr.
Leaving I.T.T. to care for her first child, Gwenyth, she worked as a Homemaker and as a part-time sales representative for Avon. In the early 1970s, Gwen pivoted to a job in which her loving and caring spirit was exemplified, working as a Home Healthcare Aide for Chrill Home Services, from which she retired in the early 2000s.
Gwen loved her family and entertaining. As one of her many talents, Gwen loved to cook and was well known for her homemade rolls and Christmas cookies. She loved entertaining in her home, whether it was a club meeting or a family celebration, and would insist that you eat whether you were hungry or not! Gwen and her sister, Caroline, were inseparable, as many 4th ward residents will recall seeing them taking their daily walks throughout the community. More than anything Gwen loved her role as a Grandmother. She affectionately became known as “MeMe” upon the birth of her first grandchild, Alia, who she cherished as another daughter.
Gwen dedicated her life to the Lord at an early age and was a lifelong member and faithful servant at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, in Montclair, NJ, until her death. She served, joyfully, as member of the Senior and Gospel Choirs, the Agape Club, the Dar-Mears, the Finance Committee, the Parsonage Committee and the United Methodist Women and was also an active participant in all church programs and activities.
Gwen showed her love for her hometown through her tireless work in the community, where she was a member of the Women’s Community Circle, N.A.A.C.P., and Treasurer of the Mission Street Club. She also served as the Den Mother for her son George’s Cub Scout troop and always volunteered her time as a voting poll clerk.
Gwen was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Leo Thomas, Sr., her parents James and Louise Firebrace, her brothers Clarence and James Firebrace, Jr. and her daughter Gwenyth Graham. She leaves to cherish her memory her devoted sister Caroline Hinton, sister-in-law Catherine Firebrace, son Leo George Thomas, Jr (Cheryl), her loving grandchildren Alia Graham, Kendra Thomas, and Jelani Thomas, great-grandson Markis Alston, Jr., and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, Please make donations to..... St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 51 Elm St. Montclair, NJ 07042 in the name of Gwendolyn Thomas
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