Shirley Ann Wilkes Thomas, former counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, dies at 94

Sister Shirley Ann Wilkes Thomas, who served as second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency from 1978 to 1983, died on Tuesday, Jan. 7, in Salt Lake City, Utah, at 94 years old. 

In addition to her service with the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Thomas served as a member of the Relief Society general board from 1971 to 1978, and she served with her husband, Robert K. Thomas, as he presided over the Australia Melbourne Mission from 1983 to 1986.

Born in Inglewood, California, on Feb. 26, 1925, Sister Thomas grew up in Southern California and Mesa, Arizona, where she completed high school. Her parents were William L. and Eva McElrath Wilkes. She worked as both a teacher and a writer and co-authored several religious books after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in 1946, where she studied English and food science. During her career as a teacher, Sister Thomas taught first-grade and secondary English in Oregon, New York and Provo, Utah, where her husband worked as academic vice president and as an English professor at BYU. 

Sister Thomas and her husband were married in the St. George Utah Temple in 1948, and together they had three children, 11 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.

Sister Thomas was preceded in death by her husband, son Cornel W. Thomas, daughter-in-law Gretchen Miller Thomas and grandson Sean Thomas, and she is survived by her remaining children and grandchildren. 

Funeral services for Sister Thomas will be held Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at 630 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to the service, there will be a public viewing from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.