ONEONTA – Mary Elizabeth Thomas, 86, an active participant in Oneonta community life, passed away peacefully on April 13, 2016, at Focus Rehabilitation & Nursing Center after a long illness, surrounded by her family.
Mary was born Nov. 27, 1929, in Rome, N.Y., the oldest child and only daughter of Worden and Isabelle Dunham.
She married H. Laverne Thomas, later a longtime mathematics professor at SUNY Oneonta, on Aug. 16, 1951, in Syracuse. Together they raised five children, welcomed five grandchildren, and celebrated five great-grandchildren. Her children, she would say, were the light of her life and her greatest accomplishment.
Mary attended business school in Syracuse, and moved to Franklin in 1951. Her family moved to Oneonta in 1961, relocated while her husband completed his doctoral work at Columbia University, then returned to Oneonta in 1967.
She worked at Fox Hospital before the birth of her first child and after the birth of her last. Her life was filled with community service including volunteer and leadership positions at the First United Methodist Church and its District and Conference organizations. She was a long-time and much honored volunteer and leader with Catskill Area Hospice and the Fox Hospital Auxiliary.
She was a proud member of one of the oldest reading groups in the country – the Onesiphorai Reading Group in Franklin – and a regular in other reading, sewing, and quilting groups. She served as an election worker and enjoyed supporting the voting process and civil political discourse.
Like the rest of her family, she was a talented musician and was a member of the Catskill Choral Society, as well as a devoted participant in church choirs throughout her life. She loved to travel and with her husband traversed the United States many times visiting friends and relatives around the country. And she traveled to Europe to trace ancestry and visit many of the exchange students who shared her home. She loved completing crossword puzzles every morning and was an avid reader and terrific cook.
Mary is survived by her husband of 64 years, H. Laverne Thomas; her children, Carol Elizabeth and partner Lee Ann Nixon of Concord, N.H., Steven Laverne and wife Martha Thomas of Fillmore, in western New York, Janice Eileen and husband David Ackerson of North Adams, Mass., Judith Elaine and husband Christopher Dranchek of Syracuse, and Sandra Lynne of North Adams, Mass.; her grandchildren, Sara Thomas and husband Josh Reagan, Edward Thomas, Christopher Thomas, Jesse Thomas, and Hannah Frawley; and five great grandchildren, Jocelyn, Emma, Naasir, Jace, and Jayanna.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to Catskill Area Hospice, 1 Birchwood Dr., Oneonta, NY 13820, First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or the A.O Fox Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, 1 Norton Ave., Oneonta, NY 13820.
Arrangements for her cremation are being made by Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home in Oneonta. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to, www.lhpfuneralhome.com