Just ask how many civil servants have been so committed, so conscientious, so efficient and so honest as to serve, in one Department (now Ministry) of government, six Bosses straight their own tenures of office? Not many, we presume, but this nonagenarian, Mrs. Lucretia Jennabah Collins Thomas, did.
What kind of woman was this, one is wont (inclined) to ask, who would be the secretary to six bosses—all Cabinet Secretaries heading The Interior Department, each of different background, style of work and temperament (character, temper, outlook). Lucretia served each diligently and efficiently until his time was up? They included Henry W. Cooper of Monrovia, Montserrado County and Harny J. Fahnbulleh of Grand Cape Mount County. Among them also were Richard N. Holder of Crozierville, S. David Coleman of Clay Ashland and Jacob (Jake) Samuel Melton of Louisiana–all three of Montserrado County; and Harrison Grigsby of Greenville, Sinoe County.
The first thing this tells us is that because Lucretia loved people, she could work with anybody. How many of us are like that? The second is that she was committed, efficient and honest—for no matter how good a worker, if honesty is lacking, there’s a BIG problem! Thirdly, she was STABLE. How many of us are possessed with the rare attribute of stability? On average, people are always on the move, seeking what they think are ‘greener pastures;’ or, “Oh, I can’t work with him or her, so I’m leaving.” Or, because of laziness, inefficiency, a lack of work ethic (Webster: “belief in work as a moral good”), one loses the job. Or impatience: “This salary is too small.” “This person is too difficult to work with.” “This job is too hard.” “Every day one position, with no promotion? I’m leaving.”
Staying on for all those decades faithfully serving all these big men made Lucretia Collins Thomas a rare breed. Can our young people learn anything from her? We surely hope many of them will emulate her great example.
But all of this was in addition to the many other things she, in her long, involved, productive life, did for God, her church, her country and humanity. She faithfully served her church as Sunday school teacher, later superintendent, lay reader, active Episcopal Church Woman (ECW) and leader of the church’s Girls Friendly Society. She also helped found the Girls Guide Movement in Liberia to give our young girls some direction. She joined at least three fraternal sisterhoods, heading the leading one—the Order of Eastern Star–as General Grand Matron; and she, along with her husband, trumpeter Sylvester Thomas, sang in the famous musical group, The Greenwood Singers, in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
And how did the good Lord reward His servant Lucretia for all this? He gave her good health and long life. Though she lived only four years shy of her centennial, few ever heard of Lucretia Thomas being sick. She lived at the far end of 24th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia, near the beach, without a car. But even in her nineties, frail and feeble, she and her lay reading mate at Trinity Cathedral, Mrs. Ida Burphy Ajavon, also a 24th Street resident, walked almost a quarter mile to the road each Sunday morning to catch a taxi for Trinity to worship and serve their God.
They say “You honor God, God will honor you.” That is Lucretia’s legacy. Let us all, especially our young, learn something from Lucretia Jennabah Thomas and so order our own lives.