Pauline Delores Walker, the oldest child of the late Clara (Wilkinson) and James B. Walker was born on March 10, 1918 in New Kent County, VA. At an early age, the family migrated to Boston where she attended school. She was a 1936 graduate of the High School of Practical Arts. Pauline wanted to attend a nursing school which was located on Deer Island, but the thought of commuting by boat frightened her.
Miss Fredericka Lilly, a neighbor invited Pauline to attend Sunday School at Twelfth Baptist. First Lady Mrs. Shaw was her first Sunday School teacher. At the age of 9, Pauline joined the church and remained a faithful and active member for 95 years! It was at Twelfth, she met Viola Crosson, a well-known seamstress in the community. Ms. Crosson encouraged Pauline to develop her talent and love of sewing. Pauline made most of her clothing, including her wedding gown, as well as clothing for her daughters.
As a teenager, she was involved in the BYPU (Baptist Young People’s Union) where she met many lifelong friends from other local churches. It was while at BYPU she met the love of her life, Charles Thomas, who was also a member of the Twelfth Baptist Church. After a short courtship, they were united in marriage on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939.
Pauline and Charlie resided in Roxbury where they raised their family – Charles, Clara, and Carolyn. Pauline and Charlie were active in the church and stored many of the church’s belongings in their home when the Shawmut Avenue building was vacated.
Pauline was a member of the Young Mothers’ Club, the Flower Club and the Swingers Ministry. She assisted with preparing and serving meals for the Ministerial Staff’s monthly meetings. Her 95-year membership under five Pastors – Drs. Shaw, Hester, Haynes, Gerald and Bodrick was a testament to her faith and knowing the Lord. She and Charlie instilled the same in their children.
Pauline retired as the receptionist for the Health Vocational Training Program at Dimock Community Health Center. After retirement, she and Charlie enjoyed traveling, attending family milestones, and relaxing.
In 2017, health and safety concerns forced a move to the Marina Bay Health Retirement Community. While there, Pauline participated in social and religious activities. The leader of the weekly Bible Study class commented Pauline knew more about the Bible than any of the other participants. While at Marina, Pauline was determined to make one last trip. At the age of 99, she was able to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.; a trip organized by the church’s Black History Ministry. She was anxious to see the exhibit of the pew from the First African Meeting House and the outfit worn by Marian Anderson on the day of her historic performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which was Pauline’s wedding day.
On May 25, 2023, Pauline, the matriarch of her family, passed away at the age of 105. Besides her husband of 70 years, Charles, she was predeceased by her brother, James. She leaves to mourn her legacy a son Charles (Ellen) of PA; two daughters, Clara T. Bell (Clarence) of MA; and Carolyn of CT; 4 grandchildren Kevin (Carnetta) of CA; Tracey of PA, Cassaundra Bell of MD and Dwayne Bell of D.C.; and 2 great grandchildren Haley and Cameron of CA; numerous cousins; special friends, Janyce and Thomas Murray; church family, and a host of friends.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations in memory of Pauline D. Thomas can be made to Twelfth Baptist Church, 160 Warren Street, Roxbury, MA 02119.
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