Mary Martha Hosford Thomas (1927 - 2015)

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Mary Martha Hosford Thomas, 88, died on December 30, 2015 of aspiration pneumonia. She was born November 11, 1927 in Dallas, Texas, the daughter of Hemphill Moffett Hosford and Gladys Garstang Hosford. She grew up in Dallas, Texas until the age of three when her family moved to Fayetteville, Ark., where her father was a professor of mathematics and later dean at the University of Arkansas. She met her future husband Philip Boyce Thomas in 1943 while he was training in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at the University of Arkansas. After World War II, they were married in 1949. Mary Martha was a 1948 graduate of Southern Methodist University, where she was also a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority; later she earned an MA from University of Michigan 1951 and a PhD from Emory University in 1971. She and her husband raised their family of five children, first in Iron Mountain, Mich. (1952-1968) and later in Jacksonville. She and Philip moved in 1991 to Washington, D.C. In 2003, they settled in the Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. Her husband Philip died in January 2014. Wherever she lived she was an active member of the Episcopal Church. At her death she was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. Mary Martha taught history at Northern Michigan University 1964 - 1968 and later became a full professor of American History at Jacksonville State University (JSU) where she taught from 1971 - 1992. Her interest in Southern women's history was manifested in her academic research. In addition to numerous articles in history journals, her published books were "Southern Methodist University: The First 25 Years" (1974), "Riveting and Rationing in Dixie: Alabama Women and the Second World War" (1987), "The New Woman in Alabama: Social Reforms and Suffrage, 1890-1920" (1992) and "Stepping Out of the Shadows: Alabama Women, 1819 - 1990" (1995). Mary Martha was ardently interested in politics and feminism. Indeed, her decision to begin teaching in 1964 and later pursue a PhD degree while she had five children at home, aged 6 to 16, was not only evidence of this interest but a testimony to her energy and determination. These qualities have served as a great example to her children and grandchildren. She loved traveling and spending time with her extended family. She enjoyed skiing, running and cycling. She was like a second mother to her three nieces and was the best mother her own children could have ever had. She is survived by her five children, Gordon Philip Thomas (Dene), of Durango, Colo., Jane Boyce Thomas, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Stuart Hosford Thomas (Robin), of St. Louis Park, Minn., Amy Thomas Crandell (Jim), of Austin, Texas and Blair Charles Thomas (Sheri), of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In addition, Mary Martha is survived by five grandchildren, Megan and Kyle Thomas, Philip Crandell, and (twins) Abraham and Silas Thomas; three step-grandchildren, Chris Ames, Donna Bintz and Victoria Smith; three nieces, Sarah Hosford, Julia Barnes and Lisa Jenson; a cousin, Frances Brunette; eleven great-nieces and nephews and five great-step-grandchildren. Her memorial service will be 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 17, 2016, at Calvary Episcopal Church, 315 Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Arrangements by Devlin Funeral Home of Cranberry, Pa.
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Devlin Funeral Home of Cranberry - Cranberry Twp.
2678 Rochester Road
Cranberry Twp., PA 16066
724-772-8800
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Published in The Anniston Star on Jan. 3, 2016
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