Mary Elizabeth Thomas died December 21, 2006, at the home of her daughter, Theresa. She was born at home on July 16, 1920, on her parents' homestead in eastern Colorado.The second of five daughters and one son born to Guy Livingston Porter and Ida Marguerite Richards, she grew up in a sod house on a farm near Last Chance, Colorado. Recalled as a daredevil by friends, she performed in the rodeo as a young teenager. She went to her grandparents for many of her school years and graduated as valedictorian from high school in Alma , Nebraska, in 1938 and taught in a small rural school near there for a year.With a scholarship, she attended Kearney State Teacher's College, Kearney, Nebraska, where she met her future husband.She married Howard Major Thomas on June 12, 1943, in Winfield, Kansas, shortly after he enlisted as a member of the Army Air Corps.While he served in China during WWII, she stayed in Denver with a sister and had their first daughter there. Over an 18- year span they had four more daughters and one son. Mary and Howard relocated many times during his professional career including a year in Ghana, West Africa. A homemaker for many years, Mary stayed active and independent.When her youngest child went to kindergarten she returned to college and graduated from Wisconsin State Teacher's College - Superior in 1968.She taught grade school, Head Start and then worked at the YWCA for many years.She was activity director for a nursing home in Superior until her husband retired.The two of them bought a golf course in 1981 and ran that for nine years.She ran the bar and kitchen and made the clubhouse a popular destination for the area.
After they sold the golf course, she continued to maintain its gardens for many years and was known for all the trees she planted on the fairway.She joined Chapter BJ P.E.O. in Alma in 1938, was a member of the Methodist church her entire adult life and a Brownie and Girl Scout leader for many years. Mary loved children her entire life and was always beloved of her children, their friends, her grandchildren and nieces and nephews. She and her husband Howard lived in Wisconsin in the summer and Mission, Texas, in the winter for many years, finally retiring to apartment living in the past few years to be closer to children.She lived with her daughter Theresa after the death of her husband.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, her parents, her grandparents and her brother, Tom, sisters, Margaret Giancola and Frances Roderick.She is survived by her daughters, Pat (Dan Waseen) of Winona, Minnesota; Donna (Rory Sutton) of Jacksonville, Florida; Barbara (James) Ludack, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Theresa (Michael White), Golden Valley, Minnesota; Meg (Wendy Crowell) (Toby McAdams), Minneapolis, Minnesota and son David (Diane Steigerwald), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, dughter-in-law, Susan Smith Thomas, Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin and grandchildren: Thad Romberg of St. Paul; Eric Thomas of Milwaukee; Jessica (Chris) Mikkelson of St. Paul; Eli Thomas of Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin; Elizabeth Ludack of Weston, Wisconsin; Arianne (Abram Doval) Waseen of Iowa City, Iowa; Claire and Adam Thomas of Minneapolis and two great-grandchildren, Grace and Arlo Mikkelson of St. Paul; her sisters, Virginia Lillard of Mesa, Arizona, and Betty Higgins of Omaha, Nebraska, and many nieces and nephews and cousins.
She will be sadly missed.Her quick wit and loving kindness will always be remembered. As was her wish, her body was donated to Mayo Clinic. A private family gathering will be held this weekend with a celebration of her life at a later date. Memorials in Mary's honor can be made to the Duluth YWCA Girl Power Program, 202 W. 2nd Street, Duluth, MN 55802. Family info and photos can be viewed at www.thomasmob.com