Suther, Thelma Vera

Unless otherwise identified, photos courtesy of niece Linda Herring. Click on image to enlarge.


Class of 1921

Birth: 21 Dec 1901, Cabarrus County, North Carolina
Death: 19 Oct 1990, Cabarrus County, North Carolina

John Allison Suther (1872-1960)
Leah “Ida” Ritchie Suther (1871-1949)

John Daniel Suther (1907-1998)

William Allan Watts (1900-1934) m. 1930
Rosel “Ross” David Dellinger (1886-1963), m. 1937










Click on images to enlarge.

Letter from Thelma Suther to friend Ruth (Ritchie?) while still students at Mont Amoena, 12 Dec 1919.

Mount Pleasant,
North Carolina

My Dearest Ruth, –

We have remained fast friends for the past three years and it is my sincere wish that we remain friends for years yet to come.

This is the day on which we were to open our letters. The letters which we wrote three years ago, when we were in free school together. Now we are in high school getting a glimpse of the problems of life. We are still class mates, and are juniors at old M. A. S. This is the week after exams. I passed on all my studies. This was the first time I had pass on all my examinations at the end of the school term. It had been my luck to always fail on some exam (it was spelling examination). I like college life very well the chief trouble is “grub” these days. My work is hard but I like it, and do not want to give any of it up. English is my best liked study. Geometry and Physics are my hardest.

I will try to make this letter one of personalities and characteristics. When you read this letter three years from now do not publish it cause there might be some little secrets in it.

I still like to read stories. Reading love stories is my favorite past time. I love every body. I like flowers, and I like all kinds so well that I can not say which kinds I like best. Nature is a well beloved study.

I have made a great change in some things since Dec. 12 1916, my ideas have enlarged. I have begun to take life serious. I know what I want to do in the way of building up the kingdom of Christ. I made the pledge to God in the presence of Allan a few months ago, and I wish with ally my heart that I will be able to live up to it to the fullest extent in my power.

As I have already given Allan’s name, I will tell you what he means to me. I loved him when I wrote that other letter and I had loved him even before that. I have not loved any other boy since. He use to not care for me but now he does, and he is my dearest and closest friend. Yes he is more than a friend for I am now engaged to him and I love him with all my heart. He is a good and noble boy and oh! so good to me.

We love each other ever so much and would like to be together always, but we realize it is the best think [sic] to stay sweethearts yet awhile so we are going on to school as long as we can, and wait for the future to bring us happiness.

I am very thankful to my keeper. He has given me health and life to live up to this time, I have my dear loved ones with me yet, and I truly hope I can keep them until old age. A few of my loved ones have passed away. But I have bee spared those closest and give the love of one whose love I have always wished.

I am not so crazy about going to school like I used to be. It is quite a different thing going to school here and at dear old Cruse.

Please return this letter to me after you have read it. Your Friend as ever,

Thelma Suther
Written Dec. 12 1919
in my room at M. A. S.


Submitted by Linda Herring (3 Jan 2021), written about her aunt, Thelma Suther Watts Dellinger, for a program on The Bold Women of St. John’s Lutheran Church in celebration of the church’s 275th anniversary.

Thelma Vera Suther was born December 21, 1901 to John Allison and Leah Ida Ritchie Suther in a log cabin on property where Louis Suther lives today. It had no running water, indoor plumbing or electricity. The only heat was a fireplace.

When Thelma was about 7 years old her parents built a much better house than the first one. Her little brother, John D. was born the same year, 1907. Thelma lived on the farm until her marriage to William Allan Watts on August 24, 1930. Alan died of complications to appendicitis on January 12, 1934 about 4 years after their marriage.

Formal education began in a one room schoolhouse. Although there were only 7 grades she remained there until the age of sixteen.

In 1917, Thelma attended Mont Amoena Seminary in Mount Pleasant, N. C. for 4 years. She graduated in 1921 and began her teaching career. Her first position was a two room school in Rowan County. She taught the older students and was the principal. Her salary was $60. a year. The next year she returned to Cabarrus County retiring in 1969, after 48 years of teaching.

One of Thelma’s memories was a trip in 1935 to Porterville, California to visit her Aunts. Her mother, Ida and two friends went with her. They drove her Plymouth car taking the southern route out and coming back the northern route. All the luggage had to be tied on the running boards as there was no trunk.

On July 16, 1937, Thelma married Ross Dellinger. They were married 26 years before his death in December, 1963. Ross had 3 young children, Betty Ross, Harold and Mary.

Thelma always went to Sunday School and church with her parents. She was confirmed and became a member of the congregation on Sunday, July 2, 1916. She remained an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church as long as she lived. Thelma was a Sunday School teacher. It was customary for her to deliver flowers or some other live plant each Sunday, year round to decorate her Sunday School class. Thelma enjoyed being a member of the Margaret Shipton Circle. She also visited new born babies and their mothers, taking a small gift. She spent time with sick friends and relatives. She also loved to send cards. If the church doors were open, you always saw Thelma.

Thelma was an inspiration to all who knew her. She loved history and enjoyed teaching the children in her family ways of doing things. She gathered the grandchildren of brother, John D. together and showed them the art of making apple cider with the cider mill that she had used at her homeplace. That was probably the last time cider was made there. Thelma’s example of being a “Bold Woman” has remained with many of the Suther descendants. She died October 19, 1990 and is buried in St. John’s Lutheran Church cemetery alongside her first husband Allan Watts.

Information for this writing was obtained from the Oral History Project conducted by Vivi Starnes in 1987, for Vivi’s partial fulfillment of her requirements for the course Social Studies Instruction at Winston Salem State University.


Unidentified newspaper clipping, dated 24 Aug 1930. Submitted by Linda Herring.

Simple But Beautiful Wedding IN Historic St. John’s Church Unites Two Well Known Families

Immediately after the morning service at historic old St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sunday morning, there was a wedding of much simplicity and beauty, when Miss Thelma V. Suther, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Suther, of the St. John’s community became the bride of William Allan Watts. Rev. L. D. Miller, pastor of the bride, officiated, using the impressive ring ceremony of the church.

For the nuptial occasion, the church of simple colonial type was effectively decorated with ivy, ferns and summer flowers of white and delicate shades of pink.

Before the arrival of the bridal party, Mrs. L. D. MIller played a prelude, “Air de Louis XIII,” by Henry Ghys, and “At Dawning” by Charles Wakefield Cadman. During the entrance of the bridal party, Mrs. Harry Cline played as a processional the Lohengrin “Bridal Chorus,” by Wagner, and it was impressively sung by six girls, members of the bride’s Sunday School class as they entered from the left side of the church.

The ushers, John D. Suther, brother of the bride, and Herman Watts, brother of the groom, entered first and took their places. Then entered the bridesmaids, Miss Ruth Cress and Miss Gladys Watts, both wearing pale green chiffon with egg-shell accessories and carrying arm bouquets of pink gladiolus.

Preceding the bride, came the dame of honor, Mrs. H. A. Richards gowned in figured chiffon and carrying an arm bouquet of mixed gladioli.

Entering upon the arm of her father, John A. Suther, who gave her in marriage, the bride looked unusually well in her wedding gown of egg-shell chiffon and lace with matching accessories, and she carried a shower bouquet of pink roses and swansonia.

The bride was met at the altar by the groom, attended by his brother, Marvin C. Watts, as best man.

While the bride and groom yet knelt at the altar near the close of the ceremony, Miss Ruth Ritchie sang as a wedding hymn, “O Perfect Love.” The Mendelssohn “Wedding March” was used as a recessional.

Mrs. Watts received her education at Mont Amoena Seminary, and for a number of years has been teaching in the Cabarrus County schools, being at present a member of the faculty of Hartsell School.

Mr. Watts, the eldest son of Mrs. John A. Watts and the late Mr. Watts, also received his education at Mt. Pleasant, being a graduate of Mounty Pleasant Collegiate Institute. He holds a position as traveling salesman with headquarters in Concord.


The Daily Independent (Kannapolis, NC), 30 Apr 1968, 5.

Cabarrus NCEA Honors Ten Teachers Who Will Retire

… In addition, 43 teachers in the county system were presented service pins for having served 25 years or more.

They included… Mrs. Thelma Suther Dellinger, Hartsell school.


The Charlotte Observer, 20 Oct 1990, p. 7

CONCORD – Mrs. Thelma Vera Suther Watts Dellinger, 88, retired teacher, died Oct. 19, 1990, at Cabarrus Memorial Hospital. Funeral is 3 p.m. Sunday at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Visitation is 7 to 8:30 tonight at Wilkinson Funeral Home.

Survivors are her brother, John Suther; stepson, Harold Dellinger of Matthews; stepdaughters, Mr.s Betty Starnes of Kannapolis, Mrs. Mary Lipe of Asheville.