Cornelia Wheeler Boyden “Corkie” THUM, 84, of Sabinsville, PA, died Sunday, October 15, 2023, in Wellsboro. Born February 23, 1939, in New Brunswick, NJ, she was the youngest child of Alan Arthur and Mabel Josephine Gregg Boyden.
Her early life was on the family farm that her oldest brother managed and where she learned to love and take care of all kinds of animals and value the outdoors. A 1956 graduate of Princeton High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Douglass College. After college, Corkie began employment as a caseworker for Middlesex County Welfare Board, where her fondness for all beings was realized by working with the poor. On August 5, 1961, in Franklin Park, NJ, she married Richard D. “Rick” Thum, who predeceased her on January 23, 2019. Together they enjoyed 57 years of marriage and had two sons, Douglas Scott Thum and David Steven Thum.
In addition to her husband and parents, she was predeceased by her son, Davey; brothers and sister-in-law, Alan Arthur Boyden, Jr. and Douglas Gregg (Helen) Boyden; and a sister, Mabel Maxon Davenport.
In 1963, Corkie transferred employment to the Somerset County Board of Social Services, where she continued working until retirement in 1993. Corkie started as caseworker there and worked her way through the ranks until she became Director in 1983. She concurrently was the Director of Human Services for Somerset County. Corkie obtained a master’s degree in social work from Rutgers University during that time. Corkie enjoyed a special talent of being able to bring people together to accomplish many things. She was sought out by public and private officials to chair committees and lead organizations at the county and state level. One of her proudest accomplishments was the opening of Agape House with the Volunteers of America in Somerville NJ. There was great pressure on county officials to address the issue of homelessness and she got it done with grace under fire. To this day, Somerset County identifies a person every year to be awarded the Cornelia B. Thum Human Services Award to acknowledge outstanding work in human services. When Corkie retired, she and Rick moved to Sabinsville to a farm they had purchased for Davey to manage.
They helped him on the farm until his death in 2000, then were thrust into being the farmers fulltime. To this day, even after Rick’s passing, she continued to raise feeder calves and make hay with Scott’s help. There is much more to be said to describe Corkie. She loved to hunt whitetail deer on the farm and in Kansas and fish in Florida and often nabbed the biggest among other hunters and fishermen. She also loved dirt track modified racing and helped Rick over the years when he drove and later when they were car owners. Corkie always had a smile and positive attitude. She especially loved her family and all the many dogs, cats, cows, and horses she had.
Corkie is survived by her son, Douglas Scott Thum; grandsons, Douglas Robert Thum and Matthew David (Rebecca) Thum; very special nieces and nephews; cousin, Jon Stark; brother-in-law, Ralph Davenport; and sister-in-law, Susan Harrington.
Services will be held in New Jersey in 2024. Cremation was at Olney-Foust Private Crematory. Burial will be in Ten Mile Run Cemetery, Princeton, NJ. Memorials may be made to UPMC Hospice, 32-26 Central Ave., Wellsboro, PA 16901. Arrangements are under the direction of OLNEY-FOUST Funeral Homes & Crematory, Ulysses, PA. Online condolences may be expressed at www.olneyfoust.com.