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Salisbury native gives to Christmas Happiness in memory of mom, favorite aunt

SALISBURY — Barbara Thomason was an only child raised by her mother, Marva “Bill” Overcash Sherwood, and aunt, Vonnie Bonds. They were the two most important women in her life, and this week she made a Christmas Happiness contribution in memory of them.

Thomason, 88, said her father wasn’t in her life and her mother’s baby sister, Vonnie, moved in to help raise her.

“Aunt Vonnie, besides my mother, was my favorite person,” Thomason said.

Bonds worked in shipping at Cannon Mills, which made and shipped Levi’s blue jeans.

“She helped my mother when I was born. My mother was single. It was not popular or spoken of. I helped take care of Aunt Vonnie’s daughter. I was 10 years older,” Thomason said.

The money raised through the fund provides Christmas gifts for local families. It was started more than 60 years ago by then-Salisbury Post Editor Spencer Murphy.

Thomason’s mother garnered the nickname Bill after getting her first job out of business school. Her boss questioned her first name.

“He said, ‘Marva, what in the world is that?’ He said I’m going to call you Bill. She said you can call me whatever you want to call me,” Thomason said.

Her mother, a “tall, black-haired, really pretty woman,” would later go on to work at Belk department store, where her longtime customer was former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Thomason said. She recalled hearing her mother talk about helping Dole find a particular outfit.

“She was the only person who would tell her the truth about what looked good on her,” she said.

Thomason was born and raised on Jackson Street and attended Boyden High School and Catawba College. She retired from what was then Rowan Regional Medical Center as a patient advocate.

“I’m 88 and I’ve been giving since about 10 to 15 years. I’m not a wealthy woman, but my mother taught me to be a giver. She was given much at a time of need in her life,” Thomason said.

She said her mother taught her to give when they didn’t have much.

Contributions may be delivered to the Salisbury Post, 131 W. Innes St., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or mailed to Salisbury Post Christmas Happiness Fund, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, NC 28145-4639.

Today’s contributions are:

In memory of lunch-bunch members who have passed away by Boyden High School Girls Lunch Bunch Class of ’55, $325
Anonymous, $100.25
In memory of Marva “Bill” C. Sherwood and Vonnie C. Bonds and in honor of my loving family by Barbara O. Thomason, $100
In memory of Mark and Wilma McKnight and Claude and Ruth Benson by M.D. and Mary Ann McKnight, $200
In memory of Kelly W. Cartner and in honor of Paula C. Scruggs by Don and Nora Cartner, $40
For the kids by Pat Watson, $100
Peripatetic Reviewers Book Club, $100
In memory of Harry C. Troutman Jr. by Nancy Troutman, $50
In memory of Meredith Hylton by her parents, Nancy and Bill Hylton, $100
In memory of David L. Huffman by Peggy Huffman, $100
Jerry A Swink, $50

Today’s total: $1,265.25

Running total: $6390.25

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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