Thelma Clark McComb died on May 26, 2015 with her children at her side. She was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 28, 1923, the youngest of seven children. Her large family gave her a lifetime of delightful experiences and stories. Her parents, William and Sarah Parks Clark, came to the United States from County Armagh, Ireland, in the late 1800’s, arriving at Ellis Island. Raised by Irish parents, Thelma adored Irish song, language and literature. She had a beautiful singing voice, and shared it with many church choirs. Family and friends were treated often to her spontaneous singing, piano playing, dancing, and recital of poems from memory.
In 1944, at age 21, Thelma married the man of her dreams, Robert Saar McComb, age 22, then commissioned as Ensign in the US. Navy at the Naval Yard in NYC, and later to serve in the Pacific aboard the USS Burius as LT (JG) during World War II. Re-united after the war, Thelma and Bob returned to student life at Iowa State University in Ames. In the years that followed, Bob and Thelma lived in Chicago, Des Moines, Naperville, IL, Severna Park, MD, and Orangeburg, SC. Everywhere they lived, enduring friendships developed. Thelma especially treasured her membership and friends in the philanthropic educational organization, P.E.O. During her career, Thelma served in various administrative roles at North Central College in Naperville, IL and as the Director of Public Relations and Visitor Services for the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.
In 1992, Bob and Thelma retired to Chapel Hill, NC. Thelma’s family was her pride and joy. She cherished her 68 years of marriage to beloved husband, Bob, who died in 2012. She was devoted and deeply connected to her children: daughters, Laurie McComb Holst of Westport CT; Melissa McComb Cain and husband Michael Wilder of Chapel Hill; and son, Dr. Robert Parks McComb and wife Dr. Jacalyn McComb, of Lubbock, TX. Known affectionately to her grandchildren as Giggi, she brought an abundance of love, laughter, adventure, warmth, and wisdom to them: Catherine Holst Grimm of Westport, CT; Brendan Michael Cain of Brooklyn, NY; Sarah Holst Alloy of San Francisco, CA; and Bennett Michael Wilder of Charlotte, NC. She was thrilled by five great-grandchildren; Benjamin and Isabella Grimm, Samuel and Rebecca Alloy, and Niko Cain. Thelma’s indomitable spirit, optimism, laughter, intellect, abiding wisdom and love of people and nature will be remembered, admired, and greatly missed by all who knew her. Thelma was “one of a kind.”
A family memorial service will be held on July 24, 2015 at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill. The family thanks the staff and medical team of The Arbor at Galloway Ridge for the outstanding care provided to their parents, Thelma and Bob, during the last years of their lives. Contributions in Thelma’s memory may be made to University Presbyterian Church, 209 East Franklin St., PO Box 509, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514. Condolences for the family may be sent to 3905 Sweeten Creek Road, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514.
Never miss a local story.