Ethel Marie Burris Thomas El, 96, of Lawnside, N.J., died Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.

Ethel Marie Burris Thomas El, 96, of Lawnside, N.J., died peacefully Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.

She was born March 10, 1913, in Clayton, daughter of the late George Alfred Burris and Anna Guy Burris. She later moved to Viola with her family.

Mrs. Thomas El graduated from the Delaware Public School System and later spent 1 1/2 years at Delaware State College, now University. She was a member of the Berrytown AME Church until she met and married her husband, the late James Thomas El.

This marriage brought about the family’s move to Camden, N.J., and influenced her conversion to Islam and her active membership in the Moorish Science Temple of America No. 10, where she served as treasurer for many years.

Her love for children led her to adopt one child, Pauline Thomas, before having five children of her own.

Mrs. Thomas El and her husband were entrepreneurs, becoming landlords for many years with active tenants in Delaware and New Jersey. They also owned and operated the MIG Fish and Produce Market for many years on Kaighn Avenue in Camden, N.J.

In her later years, she worked in the Bayak and Consolidated cigar factories in Philadelphia and Camden.

Having four daughters, she took up the study of cosmetology, graduating from the Craig’s Beauty School in Philadelphia. She served her apprenticeship under the late Eunice McFadden, owner of the Imperial Beauty Shop in Philadelphia, where she was taught to curl hair with a straightening comb, to make pressing oil and tar grease for hair growth and treatment of ringworm of the head.

After her apprenticeship, Mrs. Thomas El became proprietor and owner of two Imperial Beauty Shops, one at 908 Mt. Vernon St. and the other at 737 Kaighn Ave., in Camden, working there until her vision failed. She loved being a beautician.

She was active in the Modern Beauticians Association, the New Jersey Cosmetology Association, the Daisy Community Club of Sidney King Dancing School, the Lawnside Senior Association, where she served as editor of the newsletter, and she was an honorary member of the South Jersey Alumni Chapter of Fayetteville State University.

Mrs. Thomas El loved being a homemaker and loved to travel and frequent the casinos.

She always included other children with her own children and showered her love on them as if they were her own. Her love of children meant she frequently was surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by James Thomas El, her husband of 68 years; her daughter, Pauline Thomas; a sister, Blanche Scott; and a brother, George Burris.

She is survived by four daughters and two sons-in-law, Orissa Tilley of Camden, N.J., Zoan M. Thomas El of Camden-Wyoming, Algiers and Ronald Holmes of Lawnside and Vedas and James Neal of Elm City, N.C.; a son and his wife, Mengste and Faith Thomas El of Middletown; a dear sister, Lillian V. Harris of Felton; 13 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren; seven great-great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

Funeral arrangements were by the Carl Miller Funeral Home, Camden and Lawnside, N.J.