Julia Thomas, 98, of Charlotte, NC, passed away on August 25, 2019 surrounded by her loved ones. She was born in Wilmington, NC on December 15, 1920 to Samuel Preston Jones and Hazel Thomas Jones.
As a talented young dancer, she discovered her true passion to be teaching rather than performance. After dedicated study with a number of excellent teachers, she started teaching dance and ladies fitness classes. She moved to Charlotte in 1955, where she worked at the YWCA, later moving to the Johnston YMCA where she worked for many years. Always striving to learn and improve her skills, she shared her love of fitness, gymnastics, and dance with hundreds of students of all ages. She loved her work and her students and that affection was returned in full measure. After semi retirement, she continued to teach gymnastics part-time at St. Patrick Catholic School and, as a certified gymnastics judge, she also officiated at ladies' gymnastics competitions throughout the Southeast.
Finally retiring with her husband, Lonnie Helms, to Sunset Beach, she directed her energies to working with her community, friends, and neighbors. She served two terms on the Town Council of Sunset Beach, helped to form the Sea Trail Property Owners Association, and worked to support the Calabash Presbyterian Church where she was a devoted member.
After Lonnie's death, she stayed at Sunset Beach and was married to Jack Thomas for many years. Following his death, she returned to Charlotte at age 88 to live with family. Though Alzheimer's took her mind in the final years, it could not change the beauty of her spirit. She continued to share her love of life and her happy smile with everyone around her.
Julia is survived by her three daughters, Bonnie Stewart and husband Barney, Tommie Christenbury and husband Norman, and Nancy Whitley and husband Sholar; eight grandchildren; and fourteen great-grandchildren. She was dearly loved to the end of her life and will be sorely missed.
A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at St. Martin Episcopal Church on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 3:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of Charlotte and The Ivey. Each place gave both Julia and her family exceptional care, compassion, and love.
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