Thelma Jewel Arnold, 86, peacefully passed into the arms of Jesus, with her daughter and granddaughter by her side, on May 11, 2022, in Allen, Texas. She was born on January 31, 1936, in Fort Worth, Texas, to Richard and Minnie Jewel Jones.
Thelma lived in Fort Worth for 80 years. She graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1954 where she was in the Glee Club, Junior Red Cross and Library Club. She attended Abilene Christian College one semester in the fall of 1955, maintaining a long-distance courtship with a young man who had been introduced to her the previous summer. Thelma married Lester Edward Arnold on March 16, 1956, at Oaklawn Church of Christ and was happily married for 47 years.
After honeymooning in San Antonio, Thelma worked at the Fort Worth Central Public Library. On April 19, 1957, her picture appeared in the Fort Worth Press holding a bouquet of flowers with the caption “Who’s sending the flowers?” But her working career was paused when she and Lester started their family with the birth of a daughter in June 1958; a son followed in May 1962. While she loved being a homemaker, Thelma still had many goals. One dream was fulfilled when she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Wesleyan College in 1971 with a BA in Education, a minor in Spanish and her teaching certificate. Thelma was the only one in her family who attended college.
And so began a 26 year teaching career. Thelma taught pre-K for a short time at Southwest Christian School, first grade for three years at Alice Ponder Elementary in Kennedale, before finding her sweet niche, teaching kindergarten at Glen Park Elementary, the school her own children had attended. Thelma retired from Fort Worth ISD in 1997 after 21 years.
Faith and a relationship with Jesus were Thelma’s life-long priorities. She was instrumental in leading her husband to know the Lord. She and her family were active members at several Churches of Christ over the years, including Oaklawn, Glen Garden, Pleasant Ridge, Handley, and Beach Street. She sang in church choruses; taught children in varied classes, as well as adults via correspondence courses, and shared her wisdom as a contributor to various publications. Thelma opened her home to many, hosting youth group fellowships, missionary family visits, and neighborhood VBS.
In her later years, Thelma moved to Plano to be near her daughter and grandchildren. While less active than previously, she was a faithful member at Spring Creek, later merged with Twin Creeks Church of Christ. Even during the Pandemic of 2020 when churches were closed, she and her family gathered for “Porch Church” every Sunday at the back of her apartment.
Thelma’s interests were many and talents abundant. She was the family seamstress. Although not published, she leaves behind tomes of her writing, from personal journals to reams of her poetry. She loved to travel with her husband and sister, taking countless road trips around Texas and across the U.S. Her ‘trip of a lifetime’ was during a period when her grandson was studying in Italy. His parents, sister and Thelma, with her sister Pat, joined him for a week, dividing time between Florence and Rome. Over the years, when family and friends traveled, she’d ask for a rock from their destinations. Her collection is impressive, with stones from around the world (some she beautifully painted). Thelma was passionate about God’s creation; she adored birds, flowers, trees and clouds. Her love of nature was on display in the beautiful garden she enjoyed tending in her backyard. Thelma was also a gifted artist – painting, drawing, crafting – and even played the piano by ear. And she loved music, and was especially passionate about the Irish singing group, Celtic Thunder, which she learned of late in life when watching PBS. She collected their CDs/videos and attended 5 concerts locally with her daughter Leslie where she was able to meet them in person and get their autographs. In her final days she would smile when Leslie played Celtic Thunder in her room.
Thelma was preceded in death by her parents and beloved husband; son, Andrew; two sisters, Pat and Doris; and four brothers, Raymond, Thomas, Richard, and James.
Thelma is survived by her daughter, Leslie Diane (Brad) Jackson of Plano; grandchildren, Nathaniel (Crystal) Jackson of McKinney; and Leah (Kevin) Hull of Melissa; and five great-grandchildren, Claire and Hayden Jackson; and Brayden, Brooklyn and Brynlee Hull; many nieces and nephews; and the dog she so loved, Daisy.
The family wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude to Christian Care Communities & Services in Allen for its steadfast caregiving the last 15 months and especially the sweet nursing staff who cared for Thelma the last five months while in hospice.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to Christian Care Communities & Services, 560 Prestige Circle, Allen, TX 75002 ( https://christiancaretexas.org/donate/ ) or Alzheimer’s Texas, 7000 N. MoPac Expressway, #200, Austin, TX 78731 ( https://www.txalz.org/donate/ ).
“The robin, the rain or whatever may come, matters not, my friend. But to fight the good fight and finish the course means everything in the end.”
– excerpt from “In and Out of Season”, a poem by Thelma Arnold