Melrose Tart Thornton, 89, of Clinton, passed away peacefully on Sunday, September 26, 2021, at SECU Jim and Betsy Bryan Hospice Home of UNC in Pittsboro, NC. Melrose, the daughter of Jesse Tart and Susan Jackson Tart was born on May 4, 1932, in Harnett County.
Melrose attended Dunn High School, where she became known as “The Amazing Melrose” for her outstanding basketball skills. In 1949, she scored over 600 points in one season and became a Dunn High School Green Waves legend accumulating well over 2000 points in her career at the young age of 16. She graciously declined to join the “Red Heads,” a female exhibitionist team that traveled around the country playing basketball, in order to further her education at Peace College. While attending Peace College, Melrose achieved academic honors and graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1951.
Upon graduating from College, Melrose moved back home to Dunn, NC, where she worked for Carolina Power & Light Company for several years. She married Bromley Parker Thornton, of Clinton, on October 22, 1961, and they began their new life together in Clinton, NC, where Melrose transitioned into her new lifestyle as a farmer’s wife.
Melrose was married to Bromley for 36 years before Bromley went to heaven on November 26, 1997. During those years, they raised two children and enjoyed being involved in their church community.
In 1999 Melrose’s first grandchild arrived, and she found her new career as a grandmother. Two other grandchildren arrived in 2003 and 2004. Being a grandmother became her favorite thing to do. She loved to watch her children and grandchildren participate in sports. She was constantly driving to Garner or Wilmington to spend time with them. Oh, how she loved to talk about her grandchildren.
Melrose was a devout Christian and participated in many activities over her 60 years as a member of Piney Grove Baptist Church. She was an active member of her community and was always eager to help others when needed. Melrose had a positive outlook on life with a gentle, soothing spirit and was one to listen and not judge and one to encourage.
Melrose was sweet, kind, gentle, loving and caring. She was loved by her family, church, and community and will be dearly missed.
Melrose is survived by her son, Will P. Thornton, wife, Pamela, and grandson, Bromley of Wilmington, NC; and her daughter, Helen T. Smith, husband, Russell, and granddaughters, Rachel and Alison of Willow Spring, NC., as well as many nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents, Melrose was preceded in death by her husband, Bromley P. Thornton, and siblings: Louie Belle Tart Westbrook, Jesse Edward Tart, Dorothy Tart Warren, Howard Lee Tart, Roy Stephens Tart, Sr., and Robert Earl Tart, Sr.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Cadence Garner Senior Living, Garner, NC, for the friendship, support, and care they provided to Melrose the last two years. They also wish to thank the staff at the SECU Jim and Betsy Bryan Hospice Home of UNC in Pittsboro, NC., for their gentle and comforting care.
A funeral service will be held at 3 P.M., Friday, October 1, at Piney Grove Baptist Church with the Rev. Robert Beasley and Rev. Richard Weeks officiating. Interment will follow in the church cemetery with the family receiving friends at the conclusion of the committal. Memorials can be made to Piney Grove Baptist Church 1818 N. McCullen Rd. Faison, NC 28431.
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