Thelma Grace Atkinson was born in Teachey, North Carolina on June 2, 1935 to the late Retha Bell Atkinson and Samuel Bert Coston. She grew up in North Carolina and attended Charity High School in Wallace, NC and then attended Drake Business College, in NYC, After moving to Englewood, New Jersey she met and married Robert (Bobby) Mason and to this union came three wonderful children, Robert Jr, Cynthia Diane and Cheryl Daphyne. The family settled in Jersey City in 1959.
Being the granddaughter of a Baptist Minister, Thelma put God first in her life and became a member in her early 20’s of the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Englewood and when she moved to Jersey City, she quickly sought out and found Lafayette Presbyterian Church. In those early years, not having the transportation to reach Lafayette, the family attending the nearest church, but in 1968 she finally returned. She joined the Lafayette Presbyterian Church (now known as Claremont-Lafayette) under the leadership of the late Rev. David Harmon and she found a second family home, gaining many dear friends. She was an active member for over 40 years until her illness prevented her from attending weekly services. She served on the Usher Board and Ladies Aid for many years and was an ordained Deacon. Her passion and dedication for God, prompted one of her major quotes to her teenage children “You don’t have to go to my church, but you are getting out of this house and going to someone’s church EVERY Sunday morning!”
Thelma was a devoted mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She loved them all and in most of her photos you see her with either her children or grandchildren. In 2006, Thelma was diagnosed with Dementia and I believe it was God’s way of softening the hurt of losing her second born child, Cynthia.
However, wherever dementia takes you, Thelma used to talk about two things. She was always going to church in her mind and she was always having lunch with Cynthia. She was also a devoted friend. We could never write anything about Thelma without mentioning her lifelong friend Olivia. They were inseparable until they both were diagnosed with dementia. They will meet again in the presence of the Lord.
Thelma retired from Petrie Stores in 1996 where she worked for 25 years. After retiring and needing to keep current she attended Dickinson High School for computer and typing skills. She also received childcare training and worked for the Urban League of Hudson County as a Child Care Worker. Thelma also attended the College of Pastoral and Psychotherapy and later became a Chaplain visiting the sick and shut-ins in the hospitals of Jersey City, a job she enjoyed tremendously.
Thelma entered into eternal life on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at the Harborview Health Care Center, in Jersey City, NJ. She is predeceased by her husband Robert M. Mason, Sr. and daughter Cynthia Diane Timmons. She is survived by her children, Cheryl D. Gamble, Robert M. Mason Jr., and the son she adopted into her heart, Cedric Jackson; her grandchildren, Nichole C. Timmons and Clifton Timmons and great grandchildren, Nakylah, Dyan and Kayden; a sister Robin Ann Saunders of California; aunt Annie Resper of Washington, DC; son-in-law, Frank Gamble; sister in law, Brenda Reid (Gene); brothers-in-laws David and John Mason and by many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Finally at Rest