Thomas Raeford Boddie was born on November 1, 1947 to the late Joseph Boddie and Flora Gray in High Point, North Carolina. He was reared by his grandmother, the late Lula Boddie. On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, he exchanged this life for eternal life at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Thomas attended Church Street School and graduated from Thomasville Senior High School. He was one of the trailblazers of public school integration in Thomasville. He continued breaking the barriers of segregation in attending Western Carolina University. While at Western, he continued to participate in the Marching Band, playing the saxophone as in high school. He was a member of the Music Educators’ National Conference and a member of Nu Kappa Psi of Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity. He became a first-generation college graduate in 1970 by earning a B.A. degree from Western Carolina University. “You’re in the Army Now” became his next venture. After Basic Training, he attended the U.S. Adjutant General School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He graduated with honors after successfully completing coursework in Administration and Stenography. He often boasted of his shorthand skills. The pinnacle of his career in the Army was his employment tenure at the Pentagon. He earned a Joint Service Commendation Medal for meritorious service from the Department of Defense as well as two consecutive Army Commendation Medals (First Oak Leaf Cluster) from the Department of the Army for meritorious achievement.
After his honorable discharge from military service, he completed courses in Teacher certification at N.C.A&T State University. He embarked on a journey in education that spanned forty years. As a Resident Advisor, Teacher, National Forensic League Debate Coach, and Tutor, he served students at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, Westchester Academy, Imani Institute Charter, Thomasville City Schools, Piedmont Classical High School and The Point. He had an exceptional gift of encouraging his students to reach their potential. He celebrated their achievements and championed their achievements. He attended their basketball games, concerts, recitals, oratorical contests, chaperoned debate trips and attended their graduations. He maintained contact with them even after they graduated. They were like family. Mr. Boddie imparted skills for living to his students. His quick-witted humor was amusing, but was rich with thoughtful insight. His message of “doing your best” impacted his students and was intentional in fostering their success. That is his legacy.
Thomas was a member of Central United Methodist Church where he served as a member of the United Methodist Men and as past Chairperson of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee.
Thomas was preceded in death by his brothers, William Gee and Joseph Gray. He leaves indelible memories with his nieces, Joanne Gray and Kallima Turner; his nephew, Anthony Gray; his devoted cousins, Annie Bratton and Family and a host of other cousins in N.C. and Ga, friends, his staunch Catamount connection and his church family.