from the Sullins College Yearbook, 1970.
|Evelyn McLeod (Thomas)
1925 - 27 Dec 2007
Madison Co NC Bristol, TN
“Mrs. Thomas was a native of Mars Hill, N. C., and lived in Bristol
since 1949. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, completed graduate
courses at Juilliard and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and
received a Master of Music degree from Eastman School of Music.
She went on to teach music and English at Mars Hill College, Mary
Hardin Baylor College, Carson Newman College, Sullins College,
Milligan College and most recently at King College. She was a
charter member of the Bristol Concert Choir, Emmanuel Episcopal
Church Choir since 1965, the National Association of Teachers of
Singing, the Bristol Music Club and an honorary member of the
music fraternity Pi Kappa Lambda.”
- from the obituary in the Bristol Herald Courier, 12/28/2007
I had the good fortune to know Evelyn McLeod Thomas when we
were colleagues at Sullins College for women in Bristol, Virginia,
from 1967 until 1971. She had been teaching piano, voice, and
music humanities at the college for several years when I joined the
faculty to teach English in 1967, fresh from graduate school and just
beginning as a teacher. As I knew and admired both of her parents from my years as a student at
Mars Hill College (having her father John McLeod as a professor in several English courses, and
marking freshman papers for her mother Evelyn Allen McLeod, as my student employment
assignment) I presumed to feel a special connection to my new colleague Evelyn.
I encountered her most frequently at one of the big round tables in the faculty-dining area of the
college cafeteria. Many instructors gathered there routinely for lunch, and I would always join her table
if there was a vacant chair, or be glad if she brought her tray to the table I had chosen. She could
usually be heard approaching with her tray, singing sotto voce something operatic. She was a
statuesque, charming woman with a dramatic face, large brown eyes, beautiful dark red hair, and she
always dressed perfectly, usually in a well-fitted suit. She engaged everyone at the table in
conversation and had the gift of listening kindly, as if devouring the brilliance of what was being said
(regardless of the shyness or halting manner of the speaker). The topics ranged widely over college
affairs, events in the news, and so on. Once early on, before she married Mr. Mack Thomas, I
remember her describing how she solved the problem of having a nice dinner at home alone after a
busy day of teaching. She said she often had just some good bread and cheese with a glass of wine.
Ever after, that combination has seemed a splendid repast for me as well.
As far as I could tell, she charmed everyone – not just me -- and was especially adored by her
students for whom she must have seemed a fine example of womanhood as well as an accomplished
musician and an inspiring teacher. Occasionally, she would perform thrilling piano and voice recitals,
always well attended, for the college community. I think many of us in the audience surely felt we were
enjoying a rare privilege of hearing such accomplished music performed by one of our community.
- Dwight Childers
20 August 2009