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Helen F. (Ryan) Thomas, 99, lifelong South Jersey resident, died on April 1, 2018, Easter morning.
Helen was born March 16, 1919 in Mullica Hill to William J. Ryan and Francis (Shea) Ryan. She graduated from Glassboro High School. Helen was a proud graduate of Glassboro State College, now Rowan University. Helen began her teaching career at Harrison Township Elementary School. After she started dating the Harrison principal, she had to move to Gibbstown Elementary, where she happily taught for over 35 years. She took great joy when her students would ask “Mrs. Thomas,” if they remembered them, decades later, and she would recall each of them and ask after their siblings. In 1945, Helen married that principal, Granville “Granny” S. Thomas, Ed.D. She had fond memories of traveling across the country by train to stay with Granny for several months in San Francisco, where he was last stationed during the war. Helen and Granny lived in Mullica Hill, where they welcomed their daughter, Susan, in 1946. They soon moved to Salem when Granny became the Superintendent of Salem City Schools. Helen loved to travel with Granny, including trips to Ireland and countless trips to the Jersey Shore and Nags Head, N.C., where Granny would fish and Helen would read on the beach. Helen loved bridge, her beautiful home in Salem, and dinner out with friends and family. After retiring, Helen spent many years volunteering at the Memorial Hospital of Salem County. After Granny passed away in 1984, Helen spent her summers and Christmases with her grandchildren and, later, great-grandchildren, in Idaho. She continued to travel with her friends and her daughter, to many places including Italy, Florida, and San Francisco. Helen was preceded in death by her husband, her parents and brothers William “Bill” Ryan (Marguerite) and John Ryan. She is survived by her daughter, Susan D. Thomas, Eagle, ID; grandchildren, Matthew F. McColl (Jenny), Boise, ID; Sam R. McColl (Kimberly), Nashville, TN; Katherine T. McColl, Kuna, ID; and great-granddaughters Malia and Liberty McColl.
The family will receive visitors at the Woodside Funeral Home, 34 Oak Street, Salem, at 10:00 AM, Saturday, April 7. Funeral Mass will be held at St Mary’s Church in Salem at 11:00 AM. A private family interment will follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Swedesboro. In lieu of flowers, Helen would have appreciated a donation to any charity serving children.