Mary Esther Seay Thomas was born in Jacksonville, Florida on December 18, 1935, to William Jesse Seay and Anna Holt Seay. She passed away in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 19, 2022, at age 86. She was preceded in death by her parents, her first husband, Bynum E. Tudor, Jr., and her second husband, Arthur Ehrich (“Pig”) Thomas. She is survived by her sister, Patricia Benson, of Pfafftown, NC; her brother, William Jesse (“Jay”) Seay, Jr. (Susan), of Islamorada, Florida; her son, Bynum E. (“Bim”) Tudor III (Beverly), of Nashville, TN; her daughter, Elizabeth Hanes (“Lisa”) Tudor, of Taos, NM; granddaughter, Caron Nicole (“Nikki”) Tudor and grandson, Albert Dillon Tudor, both of Nashville, TN.
Esther was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wake Forest University in the first graduating class at its new campus in Winston-Salem, NC in 1957. She married Bynum Tudor, of Winston-Salem, NC, in 1959. After college, and throughout the 1960s and 70s, she worked as a teacher and teacher’s aide in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public School System and at Summit School, also in Winston-Salem.
When she was not working, Esther devoted her time to her family, leisure travel, and art. She and Bynum spent many weekends by their backyard pool having great times with friends. Esther took family vacations to Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, Monserrat, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Croix, Grand Cayman, England, France, and Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the 1960s and 70s. In 1974, she and Bynum built a summer/vacation home at Bald Head Island, NC, it being the eighth house on that 12,000-acre island and being powered by only a generator. Esther and Bynum were charter members of the “Generator Society” on Bald Head Island.
Esther also created beautiful paintings in oils and watercolor, as well as sculptures in clay. She maintained a private art studio in her home. Her paintings are among the collections of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., RJR Nabisco, Inc., Champion International Corporation, and Truist Bank. She was a member of Associated Artists of Winston-Salem, North Carolina Watercolor Society, and a charter member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. She also served as a President and Executive Board member of Art Gallery Originals in Winston-Salem. Esther won the Purchase Award at the Henley Southeastern Spectrum for her art. Her artwork also won awards at the Dixie Classic Fair Art Show and in Associated Artists of Winston-Salem juried shows. She was also a member of the Evergreen Garden Club in Winston-Salem and enjoyed growing roses.
After her divorce from Bynum in 1981, Esther worked at La Cache in Reynolda Village. She met Arthur (“Pig”) Thomas, also of Winston-Salem, and they married in 1983 and moved to Pawley’s Island, SC. She moved back to Winston-Salem after Pig died in 1984. Esther then worked at Elizabeth Williams boutique and US Air in Winston-Salem. She retired in the mid-1990s, and devoted even more time to her art.
Esther moved to Ormond Beach, Florida in 1998, fulfilling her lifelong desire to return to Florida permanently. For over a decade prior to her death, she was a resident at Bishop’s Glen, in Holly Hill/Daytona Beach, Florida, where she loved to knit booties for NICU babies.
Funeral arrangements will be made in the future.
Gifts in her memory can be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.