Shirley White Thurmond

Date of Death: September 07, 2019

Shirley White Thurmond, 84, wife of Rev. James O. Thurmond, died peacefully Sept. 7, 2019, at her home in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Shirley was born July 15, 1935, in Whitesville, Kentucky, to Nina Bell and Ronald Willis White.  She grew up in Owensboro and graduated from Owensboro Senior High School in 1952. She began working as an accountant for the Green River Electrical Cooperative.  She met her future husband in July 1954, and they were married Sept. 15, 1955, and began ministry on the Dixon Circuit the following weekend.  

Jim returned to Owensboro on Friday and returned to the circuit for the weekend. This schedule continued until he completed seminary and received a full-time appointment to St. John Church in Hopkinsville in 1957.   

While working as a mother, minister’s wife, and part-time accountant, she earned an AB degree in business from Kentucky Wesleyan College and an MBA from Western Kentucky University.  She later sat for the Certified Public Accountant test and was awarded the CPA title.

She readily found a place to serve in each of their nine appointments. She loved working with United Methodist Women in the local church, district and Conference level, serving as both district and Conference treasurer for the group. Shirley was always a quiet leader, teaching Sunday School, serving as a youth counselor, and she particularly loved teaching the Disciple Bible Study in the local church.

Jim’s last appointment was at Settle Memorial from 1989 to 1995. Upon retirement, Shirley served on work mission teams to Venezuela, El Salvador and spent three months working in an English-speaking church in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia, where she taught English as a second language.

She loved to travel and was fortunate to visit every state, Puerto Rico, and 55 countries.  Much of the travel was made possible as she worked in retirement with her husband  in World Methodist Evangelism, World Methodist Council. This work took her to Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, visiting Connecting Congregations after the fall of communism.