Thompson, Mildred L.
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Jun. 24, 1918 - Jun. 25, 2013
Mildred Ladner Thompson, one of the first women reporters for the Wall Street Journal, died of cancer in Sarasota, Florida on June 25, the day following her 95th birthday. Born in Allentown, PA, Mrs. Thompson was the only child of Orlando and Mary Diefenderfer. A graduate of Moravian College, she earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and was a reporter for the Allentown Call-Chronicle before joining the Associated Press's Philadelphia bureau in 1943 to cover the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1945 she went to the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau to cover transportation, a beat that included witnessing the initial-and only-flight of Howard Hughes's wooden "Spruce Goose" in November 1947. She also covered the White House during the Truman administration. Mrs. Thompson published in the Journal under the byline M. M. Diefenderfer, as the newspaper did not want to advertise that it employed women reporters. In 1950 she married John Ladner, an Oklahoma state district judge, and moved to Tulsa. While raising their three children, she freelanced for magazines and was a correspondent for the National Observer. She became book page editor and columnist for the Tulsa Sunday World in 1977. Her work as a volunteer at Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum led to commissions to write two biographies of American Old West artists, both published by the University of Oklahoma Press: "O. C. Seltzer, Painter of the Old West" and "William de la Montagne Cary, Artist on the Missouri River." Widowed in 1983, she married Dr. T. K. Thompson, a UCC (Congregational) minister, in 1985. They moved to Sarasota in 1995 and Dr. Thompson, former stewardship director for the National Council of Churches, died the next year. Mrs. Thompson was a member of Pine Shores Presbyterian Church and the All-Media Retired Executives Round Table in Florida. Earlier she was active in the Women's National Press Club and Women in Communications and belonged to the Aviation Writers Association and the Book Critics Circle. In Tulsa, she served on the boards of Town Hall and the Little Theatre and was a deaconess at First Presbyterian Church. She was the first woman to receive Moravian College's Comenius Alumni Award for outstanding professional achievement. Survivors include daughters Mary Pat Robertson of Princeton, NJ and Helen Ladner of Colorado Springs; a son, Edward Ladner of Tulsa; one grandchild, Miranda Robertson of New York; and three stepdaughters: Judy Planchon and Cynthia Thompson, both of Boston, and Rosemary Glenn, Albuquerque. Service will be held at 2:00 PM on Sunday, June 30, 2013 at Sunnyside Chapel, 5201 Bahia Vista, Sarasota, FL 34232. Friends may make memorial donations to the Sunnyside Foundation, 5201 Bahia Vista, Sarasota, FL 34232, or to Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota 34238.
Published in Herald Tribune from June 29 to June 30, 2013