Ruby Idell Howell Thornton, 97, of Lebanon, died Monday at Southern Manor Living Center. Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, with funeral services beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday at Sellars Funeral Home, Lebanon TN.
Born Jan. 20, 1922 near Baxter, Tn and raised in Cookville, TN, she was the daughter of the late Herchel Warren Howell and Preshia Idell Callis Howell.
he was preceded in death by her first husband, Charles Woodrow Wilson and second husband, Brown Dorris Thornton; by a sister Bessie Howell Maynard, and brothers Roy and Charles Howell.
She is survived by sons Charles Warren (Theresa) Wilson, Elijah Floyd (Becky) Wilson, James LeRoy (Jan) Wilson and Brown Dorris (Kimberly) Thornton Jr.; by a daughter, Susan Idell Thornton; by 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.
She graduated from Putnam County High School in Cookeville, where she was salutatorian. She attended Tennessee Tech, where she earned a teacher’s certificate and a Bachelor’s degree in English; the University of Tennessee, where she earned a Master’s degree in Education; and Peabody College, where she earned a Specialist in Education and Doctorate in Education.
She first taught school in the Cumberland and Cookeville systems. She came to Lebanon in 1961 to serve as Supervisor of Instruction for the Wilson County school system, where she helped establish Headstart, among other programs; taught education and psychology and served as Chair of the Education and Psychology Department at Cumberland University. She returned to Wilson County Schools at Lakeview School, where she served as the only female principal at the time, then transferred to the central office to serve as Supervisor of Instruction and Curriculum and Director of Adult Education, retiring from that position in 1990.
She was listed in the Who’s Who of American Educators and in Personalities of the South and Community Leaders. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, National Association of University Women, National Association of Business and Professional Women, and a Life Member of the National Education Association.
She was a member of First Baptist Church of Lebanon, where she taught Sunday school and sang in the choir.
After retirement, she became active in the Tennessee Senior Olympics, becoming a gold medalist in her age category in bowling at the age of 91. She was an avid gardener.