Thomasenia Woods Gaines was born in Sumter, on November 26, 1956, to the late Azalee Cooper Woods Knox and Thomas R. Woods. Thomasenia departed this life on March 7, 2023, at Prisma Heart Hospital, Columbia. Tommi was educated in Sumter County Public Schools and graduated from Sumter High School May 1974. During high school, she was on the volleyball and softball teams and a member of the Marvelettes Drill Team. After graduating from high school, Tommi attended Morris College in Sumter, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education May 1978. Tommi attained her Master’s Degree plus 30 hours in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina May 1988. After graduation, Tommi secured her first teaching job with Sumter School District #2 Public Schools and continued to teach in the public schools until she retired from elementary and special education classrooms, 40 years later. She loved being a teacher and invested heavily in her students. She worked part-time with the South Carolina Department of Corrections for several years in Adult Learning, assisting inmates to obtain their GED. Tommi began working as an instructor with Morris College’s Upward Bound Program in June of 2007 and remained there until her death. She thoroughly enjoyed working with the high school students and accompanying them on the annual college tour trips every summer. Tommi loved to travel. Her exploits included Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Paris and many cities and states throughout the United States. Tommi met Joseph B. Gaines while attending Morris College. They were a match made in heaven and were married on February 22, 1977, for 46 years. Joseph had two children, Jevele and KeWanna, who Tommi accepted as her own. She enjoyed the role as mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and was looking forward to a new great granddaughter’s (Harlow) birth very soon. Tommi was a member of Sumter Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She was a member of the North Main Community Club where she served as President for a lengthy number of years. She was also Vice President of the Northside Neighborhood Association for years. Tommi had several seniors that she prepared meals for and delivered to them on a regular basis, especially on Sundays and holidays. She was a member of the Sumter, S. C. Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, Morris College Alumni Association, Neighbors Reunion Committee, and the Queen of Hearts Club. Tommi joined Melina Presbyterian Church at an early age and accompanied her mother (Mamalee), to church on Sundays until she had a choice in the matter. She remained a faithful member until God called her home. Tommi leaves to mourn her loving and devoted husband, Joseph B. Gaines; daughter, KeWanna Jones Ortiz (Jose); a son, Jevele Jones (who preceded her in death); granddaughters, Bria Griffin and Kaylin Griffin; grandson, Brysen Ortiz; great granddaughter, Kylie Davis; sisters, Carolyn Woods of Washington, DC, Jo Elizabeth Mulcahey (Connor) of Jacksonville, FL., Sherian W. Rogers of Sumter, Betty Dicks (Louie) of Columbia, Judy Burrell of Sumter; two sisters-in-law, Vivian Taylor (Otis) of Columbia, Hazel Gaines of Paterson, NJ; five nephews, Christopher Woods Christine) of Fredericksburg, VA, Otis “Randy” Taylor of San Francisco, CA, Brandon Taylor, of Columbia, Augustus Dicks (Robyn) of Columbia and Warrier Woods; three nieces, Sherian R. Rogers of Sumter, Barbara Ann Ceasar of Sumter, Angie Godfrey (Brian) of Columbia; one god daughter, Amia Krishaw Fogle of Washington, DC; Sistah-friend, Carrie Loney Fox of Washington, DC and a host of great nieces, great nephews, cousins and friends. In accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines the family is requesting that face masks and social distancing be observed by relatives and friends during visitation at the home, 717 North Main, Sumter. Funeral services will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2023 – 3:30 p. m. at Melina Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., 3539 Black River Road, Gable, with the Rev. Larry Hill, Officiating, Rev. Carnell Hampton, Eulogist. Wake services will be Saturday, March 11, 2023, 5:00 – 7:00 p. m. in the John Wesley Williams Sr. Memorial Chapel of Williams Funeral Home, Inc., 821 North Main Street, Sumter. The Remains will be placed in the church at 2:30 p. m. for viewing until time of services. Burial will be in the Melina Presbyterian Church Yard Cemetery.
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