John Pelham Thomas of Cullowhee will celebrate his 98th birthday Saturday. He was born April 18, 1922, in Bibb County, Alabama. He was married to Beulah Marie Hawks from Sept. 22, 1945, until her death in 2005. He has six children: Sarah Jane Thomas of Asheville, Susan Marie Reynaud of Cullowhee, Nancy Thomas Davis of Crawfordville, Florida, Martha Louise Thomas of Franklin, Mary Thomas Herman of Abingdon, Virginia, and James Paul Thomas (deceased).
He has a total of 38 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. He became head of the mathematics department at Western Carolina University in 1967. After retiring from WCU, he opened Thomas Berry Farm. He is a member of Cullowhee Baptist Church, where he is active in the choir and on church committees. He delivers Meals on Wheels for Jackson County Senior Center, is a member of the Cullowhee Lions Club and plays the mandolin for Skyland Rest Home and the Senior Center.