Our Mardy Thomas was born Margaret Ann Steele, but her little sister, Mary Lynn, could just say Mardy so a whole new name was born. Ardmore, Oklahoma was home starting in 1933 to the little girl who, when her mother Maurine finished curling her hair, looked very much like the reigning movie star at the time, Shirley Temple. As you can imagine, Mardy hated these curling sessions.
The Great Depression hit Oklahoma hard, and the Dust Bowl was even worse, but Mardy’s family stayed together through it all. Her sister, Mary Lynn, then her brother, Bill, were born and Mardy began school at St. Agnes Academy.
About this time World War II started and to kids, this was an exciting time - collecting paper, scrap metal, buying war stamps and maybe a war bond kept youngsters busy. Mardy’s dad, W.C., was deferred from the Army as he managed the local dairy. Her mother ran the dairy’s ice cream shop and Mardy kept her little sister and brother. At family get-togethers they always chided Mardy for making them eat their green beans.
With the war over in 1945, the Veterans returned and everyone entered the post-war world. Life magazine predicted everyone would have their own plane and travel in high speed trains, but not in Ardmore. “Normal” was what everyone wanted. Soon Mardy was in high school, leading the student council and excelling at her studies. Unfortunately, college was not in her future - the money was just not there. However, unknown to Mardy, one of the town’s leading ladies had heard of this student leader and stepped in to offer help. The rest, as they say, is history!
Down to Denton she went to enroll at Texas State College for Women, majoring in Occupational Therapy. Veterans of the recently ended war created a need for therapy and Mardy was going to help. Luckily, for a fella named James Thomas, Mardy’s roommate was Carol Koenig, James’ friend from elementary school. Carol knew the perfect guy for Mardy. It was love at first sight, but definitely not life in the fast lane. Years of college, summer school, an internship, and James’ 6 month tour of Europe finally came to an end on May 18, 1957, the wedding. Originally planned for Mardy’s grandmother’s home in Enid, the ceremony moved back to Ardmore due to a flooded Oklahoma. The U.S. Air Force offered help. The substitute wedding cake had the bride in hip boots and the groom rowing the bridal boat. The original cake in Enid was given to the senior citizens home. After such a start, things had to get better!
Mardy, then an Occupational Therapist, began working at Shriner’s Hospital for crippled children, and James, with a degree in architecture from Rice, joined a small firm in Houston. They had their first son, Christopher Edward, and then joined St. Anne Catholic Community where he and James were both baptized in 1958. That evening they joined the Catholic Family Movement, a liberal action group that changed their lives forever.
Soon the Bishop selected them to talk to engaged couples on marriage and family and later to teenagers in high school. Mardy remembered what a trip that was!
In 1959 toddler Chris needed room to roam and Mardy spied a tiny cottage on a large lot which became home. Soon a bright red VW bus was parked in the driveway and it needed to be filled. In 1963 the couple adopted Anne Margaret, followed 5 years later by baby brother Jonathan Joseph. Although Mardy and James could hardly walk and talk at the same time, the three Thomas children were natural athletes and the VW bus, filled with kids, was off to basketball, football, volleyball and track events for years. The bus also took the family on vacations every year to Colorado, Washington, D.C. and the World’s Fair in 1964. After the kids were all in school, Mardy was asked to bring her OT skills to St. Anne School to establish a motor development program for kids needing help with movement and balance necessary for skill in reading. Years later parents of her students remember the help she gave their children.
Sensing a need for an organized women’s group at church, Mardy became a founding member of St. Anne’s Guild in 1984. Later when Mardy moved to Colonial Oaks, she was elected a Lifetime Member of the Guild.
Certainly she was active in church and school, but her role in creating Vintage Values was the most fun. Friends Mardy, Calista, Pat and Buddy started a tiny two-table garage sale at St. Anne’s Fall Fiesta which mushroomed into a frantic-filled gym every October, creating fellowship for dozens of seniors and bargains for everyone.
When Mardy and James retired they were able to enroll in Master Gardeners classes. Mardy loved gardening and sharing her knowledge with friends. During their retirement they visited gardens in Maine, Virginia, California, Oregon, and Washington. At the same time their family was growing to include Chris and Jemma and their children, Janie, Sarah Grace, and Hannah Margaret; Anne and Stuart and their children, Laura and Megan; Jonathan and his children, Bella and Alyssa. In Mardy’s last years, it was these memories of her loving family, the gatherings and vacations that brought her the most happiness, and her caregivers Sharon Smith-Jefferson and Kim Pace that brought her comfort.
Please join us Saturday, April 14, 2018, at half past nine o’clock in the morning, at St. Anne Catholic Church, 2140 Westheimer Road, for a memorial Mass. In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests, with gratitude, that memorial contributions be directed to the Margaret Ann Steele Thomas Endowed Graduate Scholarship in Occupational Therapy, Texas Women’s University Foundation, P.O. Box 425618, Denton, TX 76204-5618.