September 2012
Thelma C. Van Fossen
  • 99 years old
  • Date of birth: Dec 28, 1913
  • Place of birth:
    Toshes, Virginia, United States
  • Date of passing: Dec 15, 2013
  • Place of passing:
    Royersford, Pennsylvania, United States
Let the memory of Thelma be with us forever.

Thelma C. Van Fossen passed away peacefully in her sleep Sunday, December 15, 2013 at Parkhouse in Royersford, PA. She was born December 28, 1913 in Toshes, VA near Toler's Ferry on the Staunton River. Her family's home was later sealed under the waters of Smith Mountain Lake created in 1963.

Thelma grew up in southern Virginia but she spent a great deal of her adult life in and around Philadelphia, PA. She never forgot her southern roots and was the epitome of a southern lady in her dress and manners as well as being an excellent southern cook.

Thelma was one of 10 children born to Walter and Florence Johnson. She was predeceased by her parents and all 9 of her siblings, 3 husbands and her only son, Carol R. Snow of Middlesex, NJ in 1984. She is survived by her step- daughter Norma Woods of Harrisburg, PA, her grandchildren Colleen Snow of Middlesex, NJ, Kevin Snow of Beaufort, SC, Alva-Jo Mattern of Jacksonville, FL and Carl “Skip” Woods of Niceville, FL as well as 8 great-grandchildren, 7 great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her best friend's daughter, Joy Suhr, who helped her closely for many years.

Thelma became well known in the antique jewelry world operating a shop in Chadds Ford, PA and booths at notable Antique Shows for several decades. Her vast knowledge and reputation was valued by her customers and peers alike. Some of her more notable clients included Johnny & June Cash.

Thelma was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star for over 60 years and was active in her church and with charity organizations.

She loved family and was seen as the matriarch who formed the nucleus of the Johnson-Plymale families and their annual reunion. Her life experiences in the 20th and 21st centuries spanned a period with limited electricity, phones and automobiles to an era where these and other modern conveniences are not only commonplace but usually in multiples per family, 2 World Wars and several smaller wars, the beginning of aviation to space exploration, The Great Depression, the Computer Age and the Information Age. With all these changes and advances, she maintained a quiet dignity coupled with a desire to learn that along with her strong faith in God carried her through all life had to offer.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Sarah Shell on 19th December 2013

"dear aunt thelma ,as a child i have many thoughts of you ,i always thought you was so pretty and you looked so nice ,as i got older iknew you as a lady .and moms little sister ,so rest now pretty pretty lady ,you are home all together  again  god bless all sarah jane"

This tribute was added by Diane Plymale on 17th December 2013

"Aunt Thelma,  I'm so happy to have known you for these last 31 years, even though we live way down south, I thought of you often and enjoyed seeing you at our reunions.   You are in a much better place, no pain and suffering up there.   Funny, I just addressed a Christmas Card to you Saturday.   You will be missed, but not ever forgotten dear lady.    Give our Eddie (Russell) a big hug for us."

This tribute was added by Jack HOckett on 17th December 2013

"Thelma was, simply put, "one-of-a-kind" in the very best of connotations.  She was my dearest friend.  She had experienced the ups-and-downs of life and indeed, she was a "Southern" (perhaps more accurately, a Virginia) lady, never wanting to present at table without being immaculately dressed, cherishing her nice porcelain teacups and saucers, and commenting proudly on her heritage.  At College Arms, her upstairs neighbour dubbed her "Miss Lord and Taylor".  She loved flowers and animals - the more of each the merrier.  She once commented that "most of my friends are 30 or 40 years younger than I and that is what has kept me young".  People, up until recently, guessed her age several decades less than actual.  She enjoyed fine food and nice wines and champagnes.  She had lived in approximately 38 states during her life.  The Johnson family reunion was the highlight of her year until very recent years when health prevented the travel; she was usually accompanied by her daughter, Norma Woods.  She surely had the "Miss Conviviality" title at "The Villa" (Golden Living), getting along well with everyone; she grew to like it very much and it became her "world".  I am very lucky to have met her in the autumn of 2001 upon moving to Collegeville and she remained my good friend to the end.  I will miss her immensely.  Jack Hockett/Newark, DE"

This tribute was added by Lori Ostrzyzek on 17th December 2013

"I only met her a few times, but through these brief meetingings and the many entertaining stories related to me by Colleen, you could easily see that Thelma came across as a definitive matriarch, a true lady, and a truly unique individual. Her kind are few and far between, and I'm sure the wonderful memories of her could fill volumes.  Cherish those memories and she will live forever in your hearts.  My condolences to all......"

This tribute was added by Nitsat Hadas Elami on 17th December 2013

"I feel grateful that I got to know this wonderful woman. She was a real lady and meeting her was always a pleasure. My family from Israel loved to see her when they came over to visit and the news of her death traveled there too. The one comment I heard from them and friends in Israel is that she must have been a righteous person since she died in her sleep."

This tribute was added by Colleen Snow on 17th December 2013

"Dear Grandmom - I know heaven was missing an angel but is no more.  I miss you but will always remember your smile, your wicked sense of humor and the valuable lessons you sprinkled throughout my life.  I will cherish those memories and more and will be sure to make your memory a blessing for all my days.  Good bye for now but never forgotten!"

Leave a Tribute:
Invite your family and friends
to visit this memorial:

Subscribe to receive e-mail notifications when others contribute to this memorial.

Click on a photo to enlarge.

This memorial is administered by:

Nitsat Hadas Elami


Have a suggestion for us?

We are waiting for your feedback!