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Thelma's Story

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NORMAN PARK [mdash] Thelma Pope Stewart, 97, of Norman Park, died Sunday, February 12, 2017 in the childhood farmhouse she loved and cared for. Born on October 6, 1919, Thelma walked to school and church, learned how to drive in an early model Ford, cooked in the hearth with her mother, and watched her father give bread to the poor during the Great Depression. She exemplified the life-long lessons she learned from her parents throughout her long life. She taught youngsters at Reedy Creek Elementary before continuing her own education at Emory University School of Nursing. Not able to afford tuition, she pleaded with the Dean until he personally gave her a small loan which she paid back after her graduation in 1945. She worked as a nurse in West Palm Beach and Fort Meyers, FL and in Newport, RI. In Newport, she worked as a private nurse to heirs and heiresses inside the mansions up and down Bellevue Avenue. There, her and her beloved husband Charlie hiked, cooked with their Italian and Greek neighbors, and sailed on their boat the "Thelma and Charlie." After Charlie's death, she renovated her childhood home and eventually remarried to Ellis Stewart in 1996. They played Skip-Bo every night, sometimes with their great nieces sitting in. She spent the years following Ellis's passing surrounded by a revolving door of devoted caretakers and telling her stories to whoever listened. She valued family, education, and religion above all else. She cherished her parents and siblings - memorializing their lives long after their deaths, as she did with all the friends and family members who passed before her. Without children of her own, Aunt Thelma adopted her nephews and their children - cooking them meals, taking them to yard sales, and inspiring them to follow careers in healthcare. Her blessed life allowed her to sponsor countless charities, pay tuitions and scholarships, and tithe weekly. She familiarized herself with numerous religions, finding wisdom and beauty in them all. She studied the Bible daily with help from her treasured extra-strength magnifying glass, or her "enhancer". She could recite prayers and poems from memory, but her retorts were quick-witted and original. Aunt Thelma "lived her life in pink" (and purple!) She notoriously lived to eat and ate to live - she loved peach jello, coffee, and foods that crunched. She rode her prized stationary bike for thirty minutes every day, watching the world move outside her window. Stubborn yet wonderful, she survived hardships with humor and faced death without fear. She outlived and outloved us all. As an animal lover, Aunt Thelma would have requested donations, in lieu of flowers, be sent to Moultrie Humane Society and her last wish would be for everyone to "get right with God!"
She was pre-deceased by her parents, J.A. Pope Sr. and Sarah Meacy Weeks Pope; her husbands; Cliff "Ken" Kennedy, Charlie Christensen, Jack Scollins, Ellis Stewart. a sister, Myrtice Pope Clark; a brother, J.A. Pope Jr. and wife Margaret Foster Pope. She is survived by her nieces and nephews Jesse H. Pope and wife Susan of Norman Park, Joe Pope and wife Laura of Tifton, Jim Pope and wife Robbie of Tifton, Jeffery Pope and wife Gail of Norman Park, Donna Pope, Rosa Cox (deceased) and husband Rob, JoAnn Schilling and Max, Buddy Sheffield; great nieces and nephews, Jay Pope and wife Kristy, Jolie Pope McDaniel and husband Christopher, Jenna Noel Pope and wife Tracey Fletcher, Josh Pope and wife Lauren, Jordan Pope and wife Marcy, Jessica Pope, Lori Pope Jackson, Wendy Canady Spurlin and husband Anthony, Niki Pope Wade and husband Brooks, and Joe Hicks and wife Carrie, Belinda Cox, Alan Cox, Robbie Cox, Casey Schilling, Stacie Schilling Jones, Christie Gudos, Kevin Schilling, Mack Sheffield, Kala Sheffield, Renate O'Hara, and Duane O'Hara; and plenty of great-great nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held at Cool Springs Free Will Baptist Church Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 2PM.
Published on February 15, 2017
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