Joe Ann (Smith) Thurmond

October 22, 1934 ~ March 11, 2021 (age 86)


Reverend Joe Ann Thurmond, of Evansville, IN, was born October 22, 1934 to parents: Rabie and Ora Smith (deceased). Mom was the second eldest of 7 children: Rabie JR; Donnie, Kenneth who are deceased and Billy, Shirley Merriman and Jane Meinschein. She has been married to my dad, Wendell Thurmond for 52 years. Also, Mom was blessed with two sons (I can say this because I’m the author) Ricky Ivie(deceased) and yours truly, Steven Thurmond (Natalie). She has a granddaughter, Cathy Thurmond Kacsuta (Gillian) and 4 great-grandchildren, Addison, Ava, Easton and Levi. Plus, many nieces, nephews and friends.
For practically my entire life, she called The Free Pentecostal Church her home away from home.  Her beloved pastor and close family friend is Rev. Johanna Summner-Damme.  There won’t be a dry eye in the room, when this lady sings.  

My Mother lived a simple, but robust life.  Simple, in the fact that she never had a huge home, or drove fancy cars. She’d just as soon have green beans and cornbread, or milk and crackers, as she would a fine meal.  Actually, she’d rather spend what little finances she had on her family, especially her great grandchildren.

Mother started preaching when I was a small child. I cannot tell you how many little churches and camp meetings we went to.  If they opened the door for her we walked through it! And believe me, there were a lot of them.  

Back in the 1970s, it was sorta rare to be a woman evangelist. In the beginning, some churches would accept her, but many would not. That never stopped her from advancing the gospel. To say the least, mom was bold!  She kept pressing onward and eventually had weekly invites to preach. Some weeks there were many.

There’s no telling how many lives my mother impacted throughout her life and ministry-precisely named “Let Your Light Shine Ministry.” And she did just that. God’s light, through her, shined bright, wherever she went. Somewhere along the later 70s, Mom went on a mission trip with Bible Center Church to Haiti.  This endeavor to assist Pastor Vanhoose in feeding the hungry and sharing the gospel to hundreds, evolved into several more solo trips.  Her last mission trip to Haiti was in 1981. By then, she’d fed, clothed and preached God’s Word to thousands.  

I could go on and on about this woman’s life, but instead of a humble post, it could easily turn into a book, filling several hundred pages. So I’ll sum her up like this: She was the Godliest woman I’d ever seen. She loved the Lord with all her heart, soul and strength.  Secondly, she loved and adored her family more than any human I’d ever known. Lastly, words cannot describe the Mother that she was to me.  From my birth, to her death I always knew without a doubt she loved me.  Without question, she always had my back.

I loved my Mother with all my heart.  It grieves me terribly that she had to spend the last months of her life, without her family at her bedside. By the grace of God, we got the chance to be with her, in her final hours. At 1:51 today, she went home to be with Jesus. Our flesh grieves, but our spirit rejoices.  Praise the Lord, my Mother has arrived at her Heavenly Home.  -I love you, Momma

A Going Home Celebration will be held at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, March 14, 2021, at The Free Pentecostal Church 3201 Fickas Rd Evansville, IN, 47714 with Rev. JoHanna Sumner-Damme singing and leading in a time of sharing. Burial will be private in Oak Hill Cemetery. 

Friends may visit from 10:00 a.m. until time of celebration, at The Free Pentecostal Church.

Memorial Contributions may be made to: The Free Pentecostal Church 3201 Fickas Rd Evansville, IN, 47714.

Arrangements are being handled by BOONE FUNERAL HOME EAST CHAPEL – A Family Tradition Funeral Home, 5330 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN.

Condolences may be made to the family online at

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March 14, 2021

10:00 AM to 1:30 PM
The Free Pentecostal Church

Going Home Celebration
March 14, 2021

1:30 PM
The Free Pentecostal Church

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