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'Great teacher' leaves WELCA $50,000

Theda Suggsby Audrey Riley

“There is one Great Teacher, but Theda comes in second!”

The women of St. James Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, N.C., said this about Theda Johnson Suggs, a longtime leader of Women of the ELCA in the congregation and in the North Carolina Synodical Women’s Organization.

When Theda passed away in March 2015 at the age of 100, her dedication to Women of the ELCA was evident in her will: She left $50,000 to the community of women she loved and served so devotedly.

Former churchwide president Beth Wrenn of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., remembers that Theda led leadership training workshops for newly elected presidents of congregational units as well as for members of synodical committees and boards. “I can say with confidence that she was one of the most influential women who offered me and many others a solid foundation in leadership skills.”

Theda, who was widowed in 1961 and leaves behind no family, served her congregation as devotedly. She took part in services and Sunday school every week as late as her 97th year. She worshipped faithfully and served faithfully: St. James' records name Theda Suggs as chair of the altar guild, chair of Christian education, superintendent of the Sunday school, cair of the worship and music ministry and much more.

She once said with a smile, "On occasion, I butt in on things to see that they're done according to me, I guess."

Theda’s forethought and generosity will make a big difference for Women of the ELCA now and into the future. Theda Johnson Suggs did things “according to her” – and we are all grateful.

You, too, can support Women of the ELCA in your estate plan, as Theda Suggs did. Your financial advisor can help you structure your estate plan in the way that works best for you and your family’s needs. You can also donate now or become a Faithful Friend.

Audrey Riley (Audrey.riley@elca.org) is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA.