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Mary Thomas

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Mary Thomas Obituary
Thomas, Mary
Sacaton - Visitation for Mary V. Thomas, 70, of Sacaton, formerly governor of the Gila River Indian Community, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the council ki, Pima and Main streets, and will be carried by closed-circuit television to Sacaton Middle School. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m. Thursday at St. Anthony Catholic Mission in Sacaton by Monsignor Ed Meulemans. Burial will be in East Sacaton Cemetery. Mrs. Thomas was born on April 29, 1944, in Phoenix and was a daughter of Elwood Dennis and Elizabeth Smith. She died on Aug. 21, 2014, at Chandler Regional Medical Center. She was the first woman elected Gila River tribal governor, in 1994, and also served two terms as lieutenant governor. She used her political voice to speak out on such issues as casino gaming, poverty and tribal water rights. She also served as a Tribal Council representative for District 3 for one term. She played key roles in establishing the first Gila River casino, building a new hospital, organizing one of the top resorts in Arizona, providing funds for scholarships and community computer labs, acquiring part ownership of the former Williams Air Force Base and voting for a community-run telecommunications service. Later, she remained active in the community, chairing the Youth Home Project and working on the board for elderly groups. After retiring from politics, she went into the cattle business. She left a legacy of love and an example of leadership. Mary Thomas is survived by sister, Edith Pohl, niece Sharon Newkirk, nephew Anthony Newkirk, Cousin Ramona Button, nieces Brandy Button and Velvet Button, and nephew Edward Button. Cousin Margret Jackson, Gilbert Smith, Fernando Mattia and 5 grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, George; a brother, Norman Dennis; and a sister, Peggy Ann Dennis. Memorial contributions may be made to: St. Anthony Catholic Mission, P.O. Box 783, Sacaton, AZ 85147. J. Warren Funeral Services, Cole & Maud The Gardens Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Aug. 27, 2014
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