Bernard Hylton Thomas


Davidson County Education Foundation was founded in November 1991 by Lexington businessman Bernard Hylton Thomas and several Davidson County residents who were committed to raising the level of community involvement in schools. Superintendent W. Max Walser worked with Mr. Thomas and others to establish a foundation that would benefit children, schools and the community.

On March 16, 1992, The Davidson County Education Foundation was chartered with the state of North Carolina.

Bernard and his wife Martha had four children, three daughters and a son. Margaret Thomas King retired from the Davidson County Public Schools. Son, Radford, lives in Hickory, and daughter, Sally, lives in Tennessee. Their third daughter, Ruth, attended the Children’s Center, now Stoner-Thomas School that was named for Bernard and Martha Thomas. The school was also named for Paul G. Stoner, Sr. and his wife Ruth who were strong advocates for the mentally handicapped in Davidson County and North Carolina. The Stoners also had a mentally handicapped daughter, although she never attended the Children’s Center.

In 1992, Bernard Thomas spoke with DCS Superintendent, Max Walser, and expressed his desire to establish a foundation for the Children’s Center. Dr. Walser, being an advocate for the entire school system, suggested to Bernard that he pursue a foundation for the school system, assuring him that any specific wishes he had for the Children’s Center could be fulfilled under the larger umbrella.

So, Bernard called upon approximately 20 of his closest friends in the county, told them what he had in mind, and invited them to dinner at the DCS Administrative Center’s Board Room. At the dinner meeting, speakers from the Rowan County Schools’ Foundation and the Person County Schools’ Foundation presented information that proved helpful in beginning the process of organization, bylaws, articles of incorporation and pursuit of 501c(3) status.

Those present agreed to serve as the organizational board for one year and as part of their work, put a future board in place according to their established by-laws.

For over 24 years, DCEF Board Members rotate off after a 3 or 6 year term and honor the vision that Bernard Thomas and the founders had in mind that night in the boardroom. Bernard passed away in 1993. He left a legacy of volunteer spirit that continues to propel the Foundation year after year through the operation of various programs: 31 scholarships, our Leadership Academy and our STARS Academy, teacher mini-grants.

The Davidson County Education Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation with 501c (3) status. Donations are fully tax deductible as allowed by law.

Gifts may include cash or stock, real estate, appreciated assets or gifts in kind. Community citizens are urged to plan with their personal accountants and attorneys to include the Foundation in their estate plans and plans for giving.

Gifts to the Davidson County Education Foundation can be designated in memory or honor of someone, to a current DCEF program, our ‘Honor a School Employee’ program, and our “Friend of the Foundation” program or to the Foundation’s endowment fund to provide educational possibilities for generations.