Mary Helen Thigpen

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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Mary Helen Thigpen was born in August of 1925 in River Falls, Alabama to Samuel Maynard and Mary Angelyn Paget. She was married to Duncan James Thigpen Jr. in 1948 at Fairmount Baptist Church in Red Level, Alabama. They celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary in 1997, the year Duncan died.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, Feb. 17, 2 p.m., at Bethany Baptist Church with interment in Fairmount Cemetery. Dr. Sam Thigpen and Brother Nathan Daniel will officiate the service. Foreman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mary Helen is survived by a son, Duncan James Thigpen III (Linda) of St. Augustine, Florida, and a daughter, Julie Thigpen Wells (Tony) of Andalusia, fourteen great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.

From River Falls, her family moved to Ruthven and then to Monroeville. That year, 1931, she entered first grade at Monroeville Elementary and discovered the joy of learning. At age nine she made her profession of faith and was baptized at the Monroeville First Baptist Church. She remembered the church’s beautiful stained glass window portraying Jesus with his shepherd’s crook and holding a little lamb. At age nine, the message to her was that when she needed Jesus, He would hold her like He held the little lamb but if she could be like Jesus then she could find a little lamb to hold. Still remembering this picture, in her final hours she was saying “Help me, Jesus. Hold me.” A life with Jesus is a beautiful life. He is the solid rock and she knew that.

In 1936 when she was eleven, the family moved from Monroeville to Red Level. She graduated from Red Level High School in 1943. She was the valedictorian of her class. She had one year at the University of Alabama before her father passed away, the money ran out, and she began her working career. She was working at the Andalusia Employment office when she met returning WWII veteran Duncan. They were married in 1948. Two years later, he decided to go back to Auburn on the GI Bill and she worked in the Graduate Placement Office while he got his degree. Their first child was born at Drake Infirmary at Auburn. Duncan’s first job after graduation was with Dixie Electric Coop in Millen, Georgia. Their daughter, Julie, was born there.

In 1956 Duncan applied for and was hired as Manager of Sumter Electric Cooperative in Sumterville, Florida. Nearby Bushnell was home for the next fifty years. Mary Helen was a stay-at-home mother until her son started college. At that time she decided to complete her own college degree. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lake Sumter Community College in Leesburg Florida and went on to the University of South Florida in Tampa to complete her degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science. Mary Helen worked as a Grant Coordinator and Rural Developer.

She was responsible for developing a community park and the library among other things for Sumter County. She was honored as Grand Marshal in the community festival for all of her community enhancements. Mary Helen was very active in the Methodist Church and local schools while her children and grandchildren were growing up.

She joined Bushnell Baptist Church after her grandson, Sam Thigpen became actively involved. Sam later felt the call of God to become a Baptist minister himself.

In 2006, Mary Helen moved back to Andalusia to be near her daughter and her family. She was a member of Bethany Baptist Church.

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