Thelma Stokes was born Thelma Elizabeth Maloney and grew up in New York City. Both of her parents were born in the British West Indies. Her father, Arnold Maloney, immigrated from Montserrat and her mother, Gertrude Dopwell was born in St. Vincent. Her parents met and married while Gertrude was visiting friends in New York City. They had three children. On March 27th 1930, Thelma was born in Manhattan Hospital. After three years her brother Arnold Ainsley Maloney (1933-1994) was born. Her sister Sheila Eleanor Maloney followed three years later (1936-2021). Her sister Sheila’s married name was Wibecan and gave birth to two sons, Steven and Cliff Wibecan.
Her family attended St. Martin’s Episcopal Church when she was 8 years old. At 10 she received Holy Communion. During her teen years she sang with the church choir. Thelma participated in the Church’s Passion plays as “Mother Church” and for Christmas as the Virgin Mary.
Following her mother’s untimely death from cancer Thelma married Miltus Stokes Jr. at City Hall, a family friend for 25 years. Her husband, a former Altar Boy, was also a veteran who served in the Korean War. They corresponded by mail for some time while he served in the Air Force and was wounded in Korea. Thelma kept his letters from Korea long after they were married. After the war Miltus served as a NYC Police Officer until he retired (1978). Together they purchased a four bedroom house in Cambria Heights, where they raised three children, Neal Miltus Stokes, Paul Michael Stokes and Linda Rose Stokes. Linda married Gabriel Rennie and they had her only grandchild, Sabrina Ashley Rennie born April 5th 1991. Sabrina gave Thelma two great grandchildren Bella Rose Simmonds & Archer Gabriel Simmonds.
As a young adult Thelma volunteered with the NAACP for many years before the Martin Luther King Era. After marriage while raising three children at grade school level she became a Cub Scout Den Mother for her two sons and other young cub scouts. During the school year Thelma assisted on many class trips to several museums and the New York Planetarium. One day a week she participated with the program “Help a Child To Read”. One student continued to thank her for many years for helping him learn how to read.
As a stay at home mom she worked part time at various jobs intermittently. The Afro –American Day Care was a full time job for 3 ½ years. Finally at the age of 55 she secured employment full time with the Veteran’s Administration. At the age of 65 and after her husband’s death from cancer in 1987, she retired from the Veteran’s Administration in Manhattan NY and moved down to FL near her best friend Ethel Simmons.
Her weekly activities included an exercise class, a bible class, a senior group called “Legacy” and was a volunteer who work at Health Central Hospital one day a week. Sundays she would attend “Holy Family” an Episcopal Church. Her hobbies included reading, sewing, knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery and crossword puzzles. Thelma loved watching TV dramas with mystery, game shows and home decorating. Thelma was an avid reader and enjoyed at least 2 novels a week.
Thelma will be greatly missed by her daughter-in-law Marion Stokes and her immediate family Denise Wallace, David Rock Jr., Christine Kimble, Traviso Milner, Steven & Cliff Wibecan, Eden Maloney, Lisa Chapman (Nee Maloney), her God Daughter Lynette Spaulding and extended family & friends.
May she Rest in Peace.