Jeanette Hilliard Thomas

Published 11:02 am Thursday, April 27, 2017


Jeanette Hilliard Thomas was born May 4, 1934, in Oxford, Mississippi, to the late Theo Hilliard and Katherine Slack Hilliard. She departed this life on April 22, 2017.

Viewing will be held Friday, April 28, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at L. Hodges Funeral Services. Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 1 p.m. at Tallahatchie Oxford Missionary Baptist Association Building, with burial in Oxford Memorial Cemetery. L. Hodges Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Jeanette received her early education at Oxford Training School.  She attended Jackson State University and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi.  She continued her graduate studies at the University of Mississippi receiving her Master of Arts degree and AAA Certificate.

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Jeanette married the late Lee Thomas Jr. of Merigold, Mississippi, and to this union, two daughters were born, Audrey Lynn Thomas and Donna Burnette Thomas.

Jeanette taught third grade at Patton Lane Elementary in Batesville, Mississippi, for several years. She founded and instructed the student acrobat teams at Patton Lane.  She later transferred to the Oxford School System and taught sixth-grade math and science until her retirement. A dedicated educator, she never missed a day of school for illness during her first 31 years of teaching.  Jeanette was nominated for Teacher of the Year, selected as an Outstanding Elementary Teacher of America for 1975, and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.  Jeanette retired from the Oxford School System after teaching 44½ years.

Jeanette joined East Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi. She served as church pianist, Vacation Bible School coordinator, Superintendent of the Sunday School, president of the Mission Ministry, president of the Mother Board, and a member of the Usher Ministry. She was also a member of Church Women United.  She remained an active and faithful member of her church and its ministries until her death.

Jeanette earned her Bachelor of Religious Education degree from the Mississippi Baptist Seminary.  She served as registrar for the Oxford Seminary Center, an extension of the Mississippi Baptist Seminary and Bible College.  She was active in the T.O.M.B. District Association and Congress of Christian Education.  She served as Assistant Youth Director of the Tallahatchie-Oxford District Congress and worked with the late Ethel Austin and husband Lee on the transportation planning committee for the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education.  She also served as secretary of the T.O.M.B. District Choir and was a faithful member of the District Laymen’s Movement. Recognized for her years of service and dedication to the District, Jeanette was awarded “Hall of Fame” from the T.O.M.B. District Mission Society in August 2012 during the 10th Women’s Conference.

Jeanette leaves to cherish her memory two daughters, Audrey Lynn Burns (Michael) and Donna Burnette Houston (Eric), one granddaughter, Morgan Taylor-Burns, a young man she affectionately called son, William Austin, one brother, Chuck Hilliard (Virginia), four sisters, Betty Sims, Alice Ruth Buford, Elizabeth Burns, Hazelteen Jenkins, and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends. She was preceded in death by her stepmother, Cora Lee Pegues Hilliard, two brothers, Charles Hilliard and Lenwood Harris (Doris) and one sister, Marce Avant.