NEWPORT NEWS—Aretha Yolande Carter Thomas passed away on December 23, 2019. She was born January 9, 1946, in Kilmarnock, the first child of 11 born to Herbert Oneal Carter and Louise Rich Carter.
At an early age, she was baptized at Calvary Baptist Church where she faithfully served.
Aretha began her formal education in the Northumberland County public school system and completed it with graduation from Central High School. Aretha was a very studious person. After graduation, she attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. Then she returned home and transferred to Hampton University where she received a Bachelor of Arts.
Aretha began her professional teaching career in the Lancaster County public school system teaching special needs students in the seventh and eighth grades. Her teaching experiences also included Rappahannock Community College and Norfolk State College.
She earned her masters of social work from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and also completed studies at Boston, Syracuse, Yale and Walden universities. She is a graduate of the Executive Leadership program and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers.
On December 4, 1974, Aretha was united in Holy Matrimony to George Winston Thomas Sr., and together they have three children; Darrin, George Jr. and Sherard. They moved to Mathews and she joined Antioch Baptist Church in Susan. There she served faithfully as the church clerk, a trustee and treasurer until her health failed.
In July 1996, Aretha began her career with the Coast Guard as a family resource coordinator Integrated Support Command, Portsmouth. She was responsible for the administration and case management of special need(s) cases for over 100 organizations throughout Virginia and North Carolina.
In 2008, she assumed the duties as a family advocacy program specialist. In this position, she provided family advocacy case management services, including resources and referrals. Working tirelessly, she built a strong relationship with the Unit Command Cadre (commission and noncommissioned officers of the military unit). The alliances she formed ensured follow-through with client treatment recommendations and minimized disruption to treatment services.
Her dedication in taking care of families enhanced the Coast Guard’s mission effectiveness at work and quality of life at home. Aretha was a key member of the Joint Services committee. She helped conceive, formulate and implement a plan to raise awareness about domestic violence throughout the entire military community.
Prior to joining the work life staff, Aretha held the distinction as the first permanent family advocacy social worker for the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. She also worked as the lead social worker for the Admiral J. Boone and the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station branch clinics.
Aretha chaired the Spouse Abuse Case Review Committee, was military liaison to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Child Advocacy Review Team and the chairman of Family Child Care Committee for the screening, selection and decertification of child care providers. She was very instrumental in establishment of the Child Advocacy Center in Norfolk.
Additionally, Aretha worked as a case manager and social worker with the Middle Peninsula Northern Neck Mental Health Clinic, the Veterans Administration Hospital, Peninsula Health Institute Health Care for the Homeless program, Head Start director, Child Development Center director and director of the Infant Stimulation Program for Adolescent Parents.
Aretha was the president and treasurer of the Continental Society Inc. of Mathews County, a national organization that supports underprivileged children and youth. Their mission is to create environments within their communities that empower children and youth to reach their optimal potential.
Aretha enjoyed playing the piano, cooking, traveling, reading and continuous learning.
Aretha was preceded in death by her parents, Herbert Oneal Carter and Louise Rich Carter; and her paternal and maternal grandparents, Hubbard Carter and Amelia Smith Carter and Robert Rich and Mazie Sutton Rich.
She leaves to cherish her memories her husband, George Winston Thomas Sr., three sons; Darrin Carter, George Thomas Jr. and Sherard (Emily) Thomas; eight brothers, Leroy (Jean) Carter, Carroll (Marylin) Carter, Gilbert (Frances) Carter, Stanley (Cheryl) Carter, Wayne (Phyllis) Carter, Steve Carter, Dean (Tangila) Carter and Darryl Carter; two sisters, Sheree’ (Willie) Moorer and Kathy (Curtiss) Thompson; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, great nephews, cousins and friends.
A funeral service was held at 11 a.m. Saturday, December 28 at Mathews High School, Mathews. Interment followed at Calvary Baptist Church Cemetery, Kilmarnock.
Campbell Funeral Home of Kilmarnock handled the arrangements.