John Pelham Thomas, 98, passed away on July 5, 2020, at Skyland Care Center in Sylva, N.C., from complications from pneumonia and as he would say, TMDB (Too Many Darned Birthdays).

He was a retired professor of mathematics at Western Carolina University and owned and operated Thomas Berry Farm in Cullowhee. He was an active member of Cullowhee Baptist Church, Lions Club and the Republican Party. He delivered Meals on Wheels for the Senior Center, played mandolin at local rest homes and was an avid Scrabble player.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Beulah Marie Hawks Thomas; and son, James Paul Thomas.

He is survived by five daughters, Sarah Jane Thomas (Asheville), Susan Marie Thomas Reynaud (Cullowhee), Nancy Thomas Davis (Crawfordville, Fla.), Martha Louise Thomas (Franklin, N.C.) and Mary Thomas Herman (Abingdon, Va.). He had 39 children who called him “Granddad.”

A small family service will be held at Cullowhee Baptist Church at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 13.

An online registry is available at

Appalachian Funeral Services of Sylva, N.C. is serving the family.