Thursday, November 24, 2005

Holiday parade Dec. 3; Thomas grand marshal

By SUE WATSON
Staff Writer

Long-time Marshall County businessman Charles Thomas has been selected by the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce as grand marshal of this year’s Christmas Parade.

The parade is set for Saturday, December 3, at 5 p.m. in downtown Holly Springs and officially kicks off the holiday season.

Thomas is no stranger to Marshall County. Born in Potts Camp, his mother and father were the late Faye Pipkin and Seth Thomas who married in 1938. Their first child, Charles, was born in 1940.

When young Charles was 8 years old, the Thomases moved to Memphis to work for Firestone Tire and Rubber, a thriving industry supporting the country’s World War II effort. His mother, Faye Pipkin Thomas, was from Potts Camp; his father from Laws Hill.

Charles Thomas had one brother, the late Bobby Kenneth Thomas who died 10 years ago.

He was educated for a while in Marshall County then graduated from Kingsbury High School in Memphis.

Thomas became interested in the funeral home business at an early age and is remembered in his high school yearbook by a friend with the words, “I hope Charles does good in his undertaking.”

Thomas went straight from high school into training and took his first job with Ivy Reynolds Funeral Home in 1960. Reynolds sold the business to United Funeral Home Service and Thomas stayed on with United as an an embalmer and funeral director.

With partners Wall Doxey, A.Q. Greer and Clark Cochran, the four founded Holly Springs Funeral Home.

“I was all of 25,” Thomas said. “We built it from running ambulance services for Marshall and Benton counties and selling burial insurance.”

He was one of three graduates out of a class of 50 to become the first licensed Emergency Medical Technicians in the county.

Through the years Thomas had the opportunity to purchase Reynolds Funeral Home and then to become sole owner of Holly Springs Funeral Home.

With his wife Juanita by his side during the years in the ambulance service and funeral home business, Thomas expanded his interests by opening a monument business in Holly Springs, New Albany and Oxford. The monument businesses in Oxford and New Albany were later sold.

He also founded Briarcrest Nursing Home in Ashland, a business he later sold.

Thomas’ sons, Chuck and Kevin, also became embalmers and daughter Jana Stanton is a funeral director at Holly Springs Funeral Home. Chuck Thomas also served as county coroner until he was elected Marshall County chancery clerk and was seated in 2004.

Son, Barry, was more interested in real estate and investments although all Charles Thomas’ four children have been involved in the funeral home business.

Barry and Kevin own and operate Thomas LP Gas and Stix ‘n’ Tones music shop in Holly Springs.

One of Charles Thomas’ greatest loves is tending his cattle, where he spends a lot of his time taking care of them and his farming interest.

Thomas said family - his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchild - and his church mean everything to him.

“We have a strong church, Heritage Apostolic Church in Holly Springs and are in the process of getting a new building,” said Thomas. All together, the Thomas family, including the great-grandbaby, have 23 members in Heritage Apostolic Church.

He settled in Holly Springs 45 years ago and has never wanted to live anywhere else.

“People have been good to me,” Thomas said. “This is the best community in the world. There’s no place like home.

“Your heritage is your family,” he continued. “Without my family, what is the need of working? I’m very proud of them. They are my mainstay.”

Juanita is no stranger to Marshall County either. She is the daughter of Talmadge and Vera Young of Waterford.

“She is the other biggest part of my life,” Thomas said. “She’s the glue that keeps us all together. That’s what our life has been about - togetherness. I’ve been all around, but this is the place we have chosen to live.”

Floats and vehicles taking part in the Christmas parade are to meet for lineup at the old Colonial Building on Highway 178 East Saturday at 3 p.m. All entrants are asked to be in position no later than 4 p.m. and are required to follow the entire parade route.

The parade begins at 5 p.m. and will travel west on Van Dorn Ave. to Memphis Street, turn right onto College Avenue, then right on Maury Street, then left onto Van Dorn and back to the starting point.

Entry forms for the parade can be picked up at the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce office at 148 East College Avenue or at the Chamber’s website, www.hollyspringsmschamberofcommerce.org.

The deadline for filing entry forms for floats is Thursday, Dec. 1.

The Chamber of Commerce has invited Santa Claus to be in the parade, so no other float should have a substitute Santa in it. Due to safety concerns, Santa Claus is the only person allowed to throw candy to the crowd.

Joanne Huff is serving as the parade organizing committee chairperson this year. For more information contact the Chamber of Commerce office at 252-2943 or Huff at 252-7207.


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