Biography: Sarah Thomas was named Sarah Elizabeth Edwards by her parents John Matthias Edwards and Colmelitha Edwards and was born on January 28, 1918 in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. This was one year after the United States finalized the purchase of the U.S. Virgin Islands which consists of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas. Sarah, the only girl, grew up with her parents and four brothers, Iziah, Nehemiah, Josiah and Stanley. They all lived together as children in Christiansted, St. Croix.
Sarah was the second youngest of her family, yet she was a sweet but tough young lady growing up with all those boys. Her brothers taught her to box and head butt. She even sparred with her younger brother, Stanley, and went to his fights. She was there to cheer him on as the “Cobra Kid” and console him at any defeats. She passed some of those fighting skills down to a few of her nieces and nephews. Sarah was also a very good cook. Some of her specialties included red beans soup with dumplings, coconut tart pie and pineapple tart, salt codfish with eggplant and “Johnny Cakes”. On January 21, 1945, Sarah married a tough little army guy, Richard A. Thomas. She had one son, Arthur Marslin, who died in his early twenties, and a daughter named Elizabeth who died at birth. While Richard was in the army, Sarah accompanied him to Germany, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and finally to New York City where they settled down. After retirement from the army in 1965, Richard worked as a carpenter for many years before he died from pancreatic cancer in 1984. Sarah and Richard were married for 39 years.
Though Sarah’s formal education was limited, she learned languages easily. She learned to speak Spanish fluently from her visits to Puerto Rico and from speaking with her brothers who also spoke Spanish. When she lived in Germany she even learned to speak a little German. Sarah Thomas was called “Aiyah” by Bill Cook, her beloved grandnephew, all of his life. She lovingly called him “Papie” and she treated him like a son and he loved her like a second mother. His children, Elana Cook and Lea Cook, and Bill’s wife Jan, always just called her Aunt Sarah, as did other members of the family. Beatrice Cook, her niece and Bill’s mother, were like sisters. Sarah worked a few different jobs when she first arrived in New York City. Afterwards, she obtained a job in the Housekeeping epartment at Sloane-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center where she worked until she retired after 29 years.
Aunt Sarah liked to travel with Beatrice, Bill and his family, which she did for many years. She would make trips to the Poconos, Disney World, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. Thomas, well into her 80’s. Sarah was bow-legged and occasionally complained of arthritis, but she would get on her sneakers and walk wherever she needed to go with the rest of Bill’s family.
In the last several years of life, Sarah resided at Amsterdam Nursing Home in Manhattan. Although in her 90’s, she remained a feisty, independent person, not letting anyone take advantage of her while in the nursing home. But what everyone there would agree with is that Sarah loved to sing about Jesus and a song of praise was always on her lips. On any given day that we would visit Aunt Sarah, she would be singing a hymn and praising God.
Sarah Thomas departed peacefully from this life while residing at Amsterdam House on October 12., 2018 at the age 100. Sarah Elizabeth Thomas leaves to survive her: her grandnephew, Bill Cook and his wife, Jan Myers Cook; her great-grandnieces: Elana Cook and Lea Cook; grandnephews and grandnieces: Delroy Ross, Calmelitha Brooks and other family including: John A. Edwards, Stanley Edwards, Sarah Edwards, Victoria Edwards and Phyllis Edwards; a dear friend, Ina Ross and her family; and a host of other relatives and friends.