Gwendolyn “Gwen” Firebrace Thomas, a longtime resident of Montclair, died peacefully on Dec. 15, 2022. She was 101.

Mrs. Thomas was born in 1921 in Montclair to Louise Phillips Firebrace and James A. Firebrace Sr., one of their four children. She was raised in Montclair and attended the township’s public schools, graduating from the high school in 1940. 

After high school, Mrs. Thomas held various jobs before settling at ITT, where she met the love of her life, Leo Thomas. They married in 1951 and had two children, Gwenyth Louise and Leo George Jr. 

After leaving ITT to care for her first child, Gwenyth, she was a homemaker and worked part time as a sales representative for Avon. 

In the early 1970s she pivoted to a job in which her loving and caring spirit was exemplified, working as a home health-care aide for Chrill Home Services, from which she retired in the early 2000s.

Mrs. Thomas loved her family and entertaining. One of her many talents was cooking, and she 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 guests eat — whether they were hungry or not.

She and her sister, Caroline, were inseparable; many Fourth Ward residents will recall seeing them taking their daily walks through the community. 

More than anything Mrs. Thomas loved her role as a grandmother. She affectionately became known as “MeMe” upon the birth of her first grandchild, Alia, whom she cherished as another daughter. 

She was a lifelong member at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, where she participated in the Senior and Gospel choirs, the Agape Club, the Dar-Mears, the finance committee, the parsonage committee and the United Methodist Women, among other church programs and activities.

Mrs. Thomas showed her love for her hometown through her tireless work in the community, where she was a member of the Women’s Community Circle, NAACP and Mission Street Club, where she served as treasurer. She also was the den mother for her son George’s Cub Scout troop and worked as a voting poll clerk.

She is survived by her sister, Caroline Hinton; sister-in-law, Catherine Firebrace; son, Leo George Thomas Jr. (Cheryl); grandchildren, Alia Graham, Kendra Thomas and Jelani Thomas; great-grandson, Markis Alston Jr., and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Mrs. Thomas was predeceased 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. 

Visitation is Thursday, Dec. 22, from 10 to 11 a.m. at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 51 Elm St., with services immediately following.

Arrangements were by Martin’s Home for Service.