(Arlington , TX) Davene Delories (Davis) Thomas, 77, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and former resident of Paducah, Kentucky, departed her earthly home on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at Arlington Memorial Hospital in Arlington, Texas.
An only child, she was preceded in death by her parents Julialee & David R. Davis. She was a piano prodigy, instructor, career music educator of 37 years, and was a gifted soprano vocalist and organist.
While in high school, she became the first African American pianist to win the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Soloist Competition. She won this prestigious award for two consecutive years. This recognition was further enhanced by providing her the distinct opportunity to perform as soloist with the full orchestra at the culmination of each piano competition.
Davene professed Christ at age 16 and became a faithful member of Lennon-Seney United Methodist Church where she served as Minister of Music for four years. She became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. while at Knoxville College, where she received her B.S. degree in music in 1963.
In 1964, she relocated to Paducah, Kentucky where she began her career as a vocal music educator at Lincoln High School prior to the desegregation of the Paducah Independent School System. She taught vocal music at several other Paducah Schools: Northside, Morgan, and Cooper-Whiteside Elementary Schools; Brazelton Junior High School, where she began “The Brazeltones” vocal performance group; and Paducah Tilghman High School. She retired from the Paducah Independent School System in 1989.
During her time in Paducah, she continued her dedication to Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., even serving as the Basileus of Paducah’s Beta Omega Omega Chapter.
Davene served tirelessly as an organist, pianist and soloist at Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church for nearly twenty years. She also served as a Steward at St. John A.M.E. Church and as its organist before returning home to Knoxville to care for her beloved Mother.
Most assuredly, Davene left an indelible mark on this Earth. She was honored as Duchess of Paducah the highest citizen’s award; and as Kentucky Colonel the states highest citizen award.
After retiring in Kentucky, she was called to serve her hometown community and became recertified as an educator in Tennessee where she taught for another 10 years at her alma mater, Austin High School, which is now Austin-East High School, a magnet school for the performing arts.
She returned to Lennon-Seney as organist and director of music. For over fifty years, she taught an incredible number of children and adults to play the piano. As a devoted mother, she also taught her daughter and oldest grandson to play while instilling in them the appreciation of fine arts and classical music.
An accomplished woman who commanded respect from her students, Davene was the epitome of a lady. She was always well-dressed and fashionably attired. She was a fun and compassionate teacher, a role model and mother to thousands of students during her career as an educator extraordinaire.
Having been graced by God, she was a walking miracle of the Lord after surviving and thriving after a life-threatening health crisis two years ago but was spared by God.
Davene has transitioned to join her dearly departed mother, father, and maternal-grandmother in heavenly rest.
She is survived by her loving and devoted husband of twenty-three years, George I. Thomas; loving son, Dow Earnest Wilson, of Grand Prairie, Texas; loving and supportive daughter, Dawnita J. Grimes; beloved son-in-law and kindred spirit Anthony Grimes; and the pride and joy of her later years, her two grandsons David and Matthew Grimes of Frisco, Texas. She also leaves behind a brother-in-law, Bobby Thomas of Denver Colorado; sister-in-law Martha Nicholson of Nashville, Tennessee, and a host of nieces and nephews.
The family visitation will be at 10:15 am, followed by the Celebration of Life service at 11 am, on Saturday, May 4, 2019 in the William V. Powell, Jr. Memorial Chapel of Unity Mortuary, 1425 McCalla Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Arrangements made with integrity by Unity Mortuary of Knoxville.