Noted educator and musician Davene Davis Thomas, 77, passed away April 3 in Arlington, Texas. A celebration of life service will be held for the Knoxville native at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 4, in the William V. Powell Jr. Memorial Chapel of Unity Mortuary, 1425 McCalla Ave. Family visitation will precede the service, beginning at 10:15 a.m. The full obituary is here.
Mrs. Thomas was a child piano prodigy, a piano instructor and career music educator of 37 years, an extraordinary soprano vocalist and organist. While in high school, she became the first African-American to win the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Soloist Competition. She won the award for two years and performed a solo with the full orchestra at the culmination of each competition.
Survivors include her husband of 23 years, George L. Thomas; son Dow Earnest Wilson; daughter and son-in-law Dawnita and Anthony Grimes; and grandsons, David and Matthew Grimes. The children live in Texas. She was preceded in death by her parents, Julialee and David R. Davis of Knoxville.