In Memoriam

James Samuel Thomas (1919-2010)

James S. Thomas, bishop of the United Methodist Church and former chair of the board of trustees of historically black Claflin University, has died at the age of 91. In 1964, Thomas was the first African American to be named a bishop in the Methodist Church in North Carolina. He was instrumental in uniting the segregated black and white conferences of the church hierarchy. The science center at Claflin University is named in his honor, as he played a major role in securing funding for the building.

Ruthetta Scott Smikle (1933-2010)

Ruthetta S. Smikle, a music educator who was the first African-American student at what is now Daemen College in Amherst, New York, died at her home in North Buffalo. She was 77 years old.

After graduating from college, Smikle earned a master’s degree in music education from the University of Buffalo. She served as a music educator and administrator in the Buffalo public school system from 1953 to her retirement in 1995.