Mary Thom, 68, was an author, editor, and journalist. An early and long-time editor of Ms. magazine, she wrote and consulted for a number of non-profit women's organizations, including the National Council for Research on Women. Her books include Inside Ms.: 25 Years of the Magazine and the Feminist Movement and Letters to Ms.: 1972-1987. She is editor, with Suzanne Braun Levine, of an oral history, Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way. She also was editor of a book by Rosalie Maggio, Unspinning the Spin: How to Say What You Mean and De-Code the Hype. The book will be released later this fall.
At the Women's Media Center, Thom edited features of original writing by women journalists on important issues that provide progressive women's perspectives on both headlines and timely events ignored or misrepresented in the mainstream media. She joined the organization in 2006.
While she spent her childhood in Akron, Ohio, Thom lived 48 years on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She was preceded in death by her parents, Paul and Susan Thom. In addition to her nephew and sister, she is survived by niece-in-law Mariko Silver, and grandniece Kumi Silver Loubet.
The Washington Post, 4/29/13, "Mary Thom, feminist and former editor of Ms. Magazine, dies at 68" http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-29/national/38900065_1_mary-thom-ms-suzanne-braun-levine
The New York Times, Javier C. Hernandez, 4/28/13, "Mary Thom, an Editor Who Shaped Feminist Voices, Dies at 68" http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/business/media/mary-thom-a-chronicler-of-the-feminist-movement-dies-at-68.html?_r=0
Los Angeles Times, 4/28/13, "Mary Thom dies at 68; executive editor at Ms. magazine" http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/28/local/la-me-0429-mary-thom-20130429
CNN, by AnneClaire Stapleton, 4/28/13 (updated), "Prominent feminist Mary Thom dies in motorcycle crash" http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/28/us/mary-thom-death/index.html
ABC World News, 4/28/13, In Memoriam Slide Show, http://abcnews.go.com/US/slideshow/mary-thom-ms-magazine-dies-2013-in-memoriam-18116446
UPI.com, 4/28/13, "Ex-Ms. magazine editor dies in motorcycle crash" http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/TV/2013/04/28/Ex-Ms-magazine-editor-Mary-Thom-dies-in-motorcycle-crash/UPI-23161367158943
CNN International, Outlook Wire Advisory, 4/28/13, "US-Mary-Thom-Death" http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/28/world/advisory-cnn-wire-outlook
Gawker (via CNN), 4/28/13, "Ms. Magazine Co-Founder Mary Thom Killed in Motorcycle Accident" http://gawker.com/ms-magazine-co-founder-mary-thom-killed-in-motorcycle-483833845
Daily Mail Online (UK), 4/28/13, "Renowned feminist and longtime Ms. Magazine editor dies in motorcycle crash at 67" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316065/Mary-Thom-Renowned-feminist-longtime-Ms-Magazine-editor-dies-motorbike-crash-67.html
WLWT News, from CNN, by AnneClaire Stapleton, 4/28/13 (updated), "Prominent feminist Mary Thom dies in motorcycle crash http://www.wlwt.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9837944/19926036/-/format/rsss_2.0/-/9y61mxz/-/index.html
ABC News Channel 12, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies—she was editor of Ms. in early years" http://www.wcti12.com/news/national-news/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/13530322/19926036/-/ljl5g0/-/index.html
ABC Kansas KETV.com, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, "Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies—she was editor of Ms. in early years" http://www.ketv.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9674576/19926036/-/8byx7y/-/index.html
WMUR New Hampshire, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, "Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies" http://www.wmur.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9857926/19926036/-/format/rsss_2.0/-/93pga4z/-/index.html
Seattle Pacific Intelligencer, from Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Ex-Ms-magazine-editor-Mary-Thom-dies-in-NY-crash-4469558.php
ABC Maine WMTW.com, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies—she was editor of Ms. in early years http://www.wmtw.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/8792078/19926036/-/format/rsss_2.0/-/12q3mpyz/-/index.html
ABC 7 Albuquerque KOAT, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, "Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies—she was editor of Ms. in early years" http://www.koat.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9153826/19926036/-/vxhctt/-/index.html
KCCI 8 News, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, "Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies" http://www.kcci.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9357144/19926036/-/q58dna/-/index.html
ABC Wisconsin WISN, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, "Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies—she was editor of Ms. in early years http://www.wisn.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9373390/19926036/-/format/rsss_2.0/-/11ygd8mz/-/index.html
San Jose Mercury News, from Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.mercurynews.com/obituaries/ci_23123792/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-dies-ny
Fox Caroline, from Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/22098173/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-dies-in-ny-crash
ArizonaFamily.com, from Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.azfamily.com/news/national/205039201.html
Connecticut Post, from Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Ex-Ms-magazine-editor-Mary-Thom-dies-in-NY-crash-4469558.php
NBC WGAL.com, from AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN, 4/28/13, Prominent Feminist Mary Thom Dies—she was editor of Ms. in early years" http://www.wgal.com/news/national/Prominent-feminist-Mary-Thom-dies/-/9360498/19926036/-/format/rsss_2.0/-/dax3e/-/index.html
Louisiana News Leader WLTV.com, by Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash http://www.wwltv.com/news/national/205039201.html
Yahoo News, by Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom, avid motorcyclist, dies in NY highway crash" http://news.yahoo.com/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-dies-ny-011958281.html
GreenwichTime.com, 4/28/13, by Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Ex-Ms-magazine-editor-Mary-Thom-dies-in-NY-crash-4469558.php
NBC WCNC Charlotte, 4/27/2013, by Associated Press, Ex-Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.wcnc.com/entertainment/205039201.html
NWI Times, by Associated Press, 4/28/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.nwitimes.com/entertainment/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-dies-in-ny-crash/article_4c76c069-93e1-5f5a-93a4-05b47c7704ca.html
Akron Beacon Journal, 4/27/13, "Womenâ€™s movement leader dies in motorcycle accident" http://enjoy.ohio.com/women-s-movement-leader-dies-in-motorcycle-accident-1.393225
Huffington Post, from Associated Press, 4/27/2013 "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130427/us-obit-thom/?utm_hp_ref=3Dstyle&ir=3Dstyle
CBS News, by Associated Press, 4/27/13, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57581769/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-dies-in-crash
San Francisco Chronicle, by Associated Press, 4/27/2013, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY Crash" http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ex-Ms-magazine-editor-Mary-Thom-dies-in-NY-crash-4469558.php
The New York Times, by Javier Hernandez, April 27, 2013, "Feminist Editor Dies in Motorcycle Accident" http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/feminist-editor-dies-in-motorcycle-accident
CBS New York 2, April 27, 2013, "Prominent Feminist And Writer Mary Thom Killed in Tragic Motorcycle Accident http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/04/27/prominent-feminist-and-writer-mary-thom-killed-in-tragic-motorcycle-accident
Stamford Advocate, April 27, 2013, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY crash" http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Ex-Ms-magazine-editor-Mary-Thom-dies-in-NY-crash-4469558.php
Seattle News Tribune, April 27, 2013, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY crash" http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/04/27/2575629/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom.html
Miami Herald, April 27, 2013, "Ex-Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY crash" http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/27/3368667/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom.html
Washington Post, by Associated Press, April 2013, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom, avid motorcyclist, dies in NY highway crash at 68" http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/former-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-avid-motorcyclist-dies-in-ny-highway-crash-at-age-68/2013/04/27/10564ee2-afa2-11e2-b59e-adb43da03a8a_story.html
Vancouver Sun, by Associated Press, April 2013, "Former Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom, avid motorcyclist, dies in NY highway crash at 68" http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Former+magazine+editor+Mary+Thom+avid+motorcyclist+dies/8306028/story.html
Carlislie Sentinel, by Associated Press, April 27, 2013, "Ex-Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY crash" http://cumberlink.com/entertainment/other/ex-ms-magazine-editor-mary-thom-dies-in-ny-crash/article_ed403958-b5df-59c3-a25b-b6d7d4362b9d.html
Wall Street Journal, by Associated Press, April 27, 2013, "Ex-Ms. magazine editor Mary Thom dies in NY crash" http://online.wsj.com/article/AP326c296fbf824684bbe96cebdf30a106.html?mod=3Dgooglenews_wsj
Newsday, by Sarah Armaghan, April 27, 2013 "Mary Thom, former Ms. magazine editor, identified as Yonkers motorcycle crash victim" http://newyork.newsday.com/news/new-york/mary-thom-former-ms-magazine-editor-identified-as-yonkers-motorcycle-crash-victim-1.5151897
The Daily Voice, by Casey Donahum, April 27, 2013, "Former Ms. Magazine Editor Killed In Yonkers Motorcycle Crash" http://northsalem.dailyvoice.com/news/former-ms-magazine-editor-killed-yonkers-motorcycle-crash
LoHud.com (Gannett), by Tim Henderson, April 27, 2013, "Former Ms. editor Mary Thom killed in Yonkers motorcycle crash" http://www.lohud.com/article/20130427/NEWS/304270050/Former-Ms-editor-Mary-Thom-killed-Yonkers-motorcycle-crash
Hudson Valley News 12, April 27, 2013, "Mary Thom, former editor of Ms. Magazine, killed in Saw Mill Pkwy. crash" http://hudsonvalley.news12.com/news/mary-thom-former-editor-of-ms-magazine-killed-in-saw-mill-pkwy-crash-1.5151110?firstfree=3Dyes
LoHud.com (Gannett), by Shawn Cohen and James O'Rourke, April 26, 2013, "NYC motorcyclist, 68, dies in Saw Mill crash" http://www.lohud.com/article/20130427/NEWS02/304270049/NYC-motorcyclist-68-dies-Saw-Mill-crash
The Women's Media Center Mary Thom Art of Editing Award
Mary Thom, author, Ms. Magazine editor and Women’s Media Center Features Editor (in memoriam) was honored with a Women’s Media Center Mary Thom Art of Editing Award, presented by Martha Nelson.
Memories of Mary
The feminist community lost Mary Thom, an invaluable writer, thinker, and leader in the women’s movement. While I never met Thom, I worked with her on my first feature for WMC on anti-Islam advertising, the discourse of islamophobia, and several hate crimes that occurred last summer. With her guidance, I wrote my first feature-length piece on orientalism in post-9/11 advertising, a topic I never felt I had an outlet for. When Thom asked my social security number to put an invoice in for my fee (I had not asked to be paid), she said, “we don’t think promoting women’s voices in the media should include exploiting women writers.” Agreed.
Thom dedicated the ending of her life editing features at WMC, a non-profit organization with a goal to increase women’s influence in the media, and shape the way news is reported and issues are discussed.
WMC’s goal of shaping the way news is reported, particularly on violence against women, is particularly prescient today. Journalists at WMC and news consumers castigated CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville rape trial after the network sympathized with the two men who were found guilty of raping a young woman and emphasized the victim’s alleged alcohol consumption.
And despite the fact that rapes are often uncovered by the news all over the world, news consumers took to social media and traditional media outlets at the news of that six men brutally gang-raped a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi, India.
At the same time that news consumers and mainstream outlets are increasingly covering violence against women and issues facing women (including The Atlantic’s new Sexes Channel), a crop of media monitoring organizations have emerged, including Miss Representation’s #NotBuyingIt campaign, that point out sexism in ad campaigns, news media, and journalism.
Thom died at a moment when mainstream media continues to castigate women, but when women and news consumers refuse to stand by idly and be castigated. She died after helping create the foundations of the conversation on women shaping the news at Ms. Magazine, and at the beginning of a time when the average news consumer can share their resounding opposition to sexism and violence against women through social media.
While it is impossible to measure the impact of women’s participation in news with how we talk about issues related to women, Thom’s death comes at a time of enormous potential. As an editor for two prolific feminist publications, and the author of two books, Thom leaves the feminist and journalist communities with a challenge: continue to empower women who work in media, and continue to empower women through fair and equal news coverage.
—Megan Reback, May 29, 2013
I got to know Mary though Journalism & Women Symposium, a supportive and nurturing group of women in journalism who also know a lot about life. I had the honor of working with her in my contributions to the Women's Media Center. I'm not sure what I expected this icon to be like. I do know she was a wonderful, collaborative editor who always made my work better. I am honored to have known and worked with Mary Thom.
—Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post "She the People," JAWS, May 26, 2013
I worked with Mary mostly remotely over the years. How grateful I am for that association, and how mindful I always was of her professionalism. The best editors are all but invisible, but writers know their ideas couldn't shine without editors like Mary.
About a year ago I was part of a gathering to discuss electing women to high office in the US. We went around the room introducing ourselves, and Mary introduced herself very modestly. I added: "Everyone, Mary Thom is in the room--she represents history!" She did, and she does. When we elect our first woman president--and I hope that moment is now less than four years away--let us remember that Mary Thom was a leader among those who labored mightily to bring about that world-changing moment.
—Carol Edgar , May 20, 2013
Steadfast. Diligent. Generous. Gifted. These are all words that describe Mary Thom,, who gave me some wonderful assignments for the WMC site, and who was my colleague and office mate for the three years I worked at Ms. magazine.
But what I remember first about Mary is her laugh—a ready and almost girlish eruption that challenged first impressions of her as a very serious person. Mary liked to laugh, finding a generally good-natured amusement in certain human foibles—in a way that only a keen observer of people and their deeds would.
As evidenced by the testimonies here, Mary was a great editor. And she was so much more--a terrific writer, the keeper of our history, and a shaper of the dialogues, debates and ideas that gave life to the modern feminist movement.
But the thing I find most admirable about her was the way in which she was so true to herself. In that, she was a true radical, I believe, given the pressures in all societies to conform.
I'm heartbroken by her death and grateful for the opportunity I had to work with her.
—Adele M. Stan, RH Reality Check, May 9, 2013
On Friday, April 26, 2013, Mary did the New York Times crossword puzzle like she did most every day. It was almost completed when she left to pick up her motorcycle, stored for the winter in Yonkers. It was a glorious day. She never came home.
Mary loved words and word games, TV game shows and mystery novels.
She was a news junkie and always had a thoughtful take on politics, even when certain politicians drove her crazy.
She paid off her credit card bill every month.
She had eclectic taste in music, from blues to opera. She was always present when her nephew Thom, a musician, played in New York.
Mary loved cooking and was enjoying a shiny, new kitchen, a dream for years. She was a fabulous cook.
And, of course, Mary had a passion for biking and for the motorcycle trips she took out West with her family. When we worked at Ms. Magazine, I had my own helmet and often rode with her. I know she was a careful driver.
Even more than her bike, Mary loved her family and doted on the newest arrival, Kumi. Mary opened a Facebook page just so she could post photos of Kumi. Mary was doubly excited about Kumi’s soon-to-be baby sister.
I met Mary in 1968 when we were both associate editors at the weekly news digest Facts on File. It was the perfect first job for budding journalists. We each had a beat and we read every news item we could get our hands on about our beat and then wrote a 2,000 – 3,000 word summary each week and indexed it. This immersion in the news taught us about good leads, accuracy and fair arguments (as well as unfair arguments).
In 1969, we made $9,000 a year. (I know this because we found Mary’s pay stubs from 1969 and 1970 when we were cleaning out her office.) This seemed a good salary to me in those days. But consider our surprise when we discovered that a male associate editor, who did the exact same job that we did and was hired at the exact same time we were, earned way more than we did. This did not go over well with the women of Facts on File. We organized. We went on strike on August 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the day 50,000 women marched down Fifth Avenue. At the rally in Bryant Park that day, Mary and I registered voters for Bella Abzug’s first Congressional campaign. Our work stoppage was successful. The women at Facts on File got significant raises!
I left Facts on File in 1971. Mary left soon after and went to France with her friend Steve. I worked on the Preview Issue of Ms. Magazine. When it was clear from sales of that issue that the magazine would be ongoing, I called Mary, just back from Europe, and said, “We need you. Now.”
She showed up the next day. We did not have enough desks for everyone, but we had organized (sort of) piles of paper on the floor. Mary took a spot. She later remembered that she got a migraine that day.
Mary’s death stopped me in my tracks, taking me far away from the ups and downs – and deadlines – of my daily life. Mary was one of my wisest friends. I often called on her for advice, from editorial support for my own writing (She would definitely ask me to cut this tribute!), to issues about career or personal dilemmas. We had dinner with friends regularly. Whenever I was overwhelmed and tending toward frantic, I could always count on Mary’s calm. I learned perspective from her and hope I can hold onto that, even if I can no longer phone her and hear it in her own voice.
Mayre, I miss you. I promise to tell Kumi and her baby sister about you. And to hold up the Granny brigade at Thom’s concerts in NYC. (And by the way, we’re giving your last, almost-completed crossword puzzle to the Smith archives.)
—Joanne Edgar, Freelance consultant, Gathering Stories for Social Change, May 9, 2013
Mary helped give me a sense that I was part of history...not just my own personal herstory but that I was in my own small way contributing to a larger societal change. That realization lives in me today
—Brette Popper, May 9, 2013
Back when Mary and Suzanne were interviewing for the Bella Abzug Oral History book, Mary hired me to transcribe the interviews, which I did. While listening to her interviews I was always taken by that intoxicating laugh of hers, and she always had me giggling while transcribing. I only had the opportunity to meet Mary, and Suzanne, in person, twice, one at the Bella book party, and another time at a reading the Robin Morgan did, but I remain forever grateful to both Mary and Suzanne for recommending my services to the MS community of women who have all given me fascinating projects to work on, and who welcomed me into their lives. My heart goes out to all who were close to and loved Mary so much. .
—Rose Heredia, May 8, 2013
I first met Mary and her sister Susan at a Journalism & Women Symposium conference in Sedona, Ariz. They'd ridden their motorcycles there and it was wonderful to have two other women to discuss bikes we've ridden and loved over the years.
But I was also in awe of Mary's years of commitment to feminism. Her work may have been a bit behind the scenes but she had a terrific impact.
It saddens me to know she's gone.
—Sandra Fish, Journalism & Women Symposium member, May 8, 2013
Remembering Mary Thom
Mary was part of the fabric of my life, and my family’s life, since the late 1960s. I can’t imagine not being able to see and talk to her again.
I met her through her sister, Susan, when we were all in our twenties and new to New York, full of ourselves and excited about our futures. She was Susan’s kid sister; she smoked; she was thin; she lived with Steve. I didn’t get to know Mary really well, though, until my late 30s, when I joined the Ms. staff after working downstairs from them at the Women’s Action Alliance. So it was during the decade of the eighties that I really came to know Mary as the wise, focused, fair colleague and friend whom I could rely upon.
Mary was my editorial board peer and sometimes also my editor when I wrote articles for Ms. She was particularly adept at pruning my excesses. I think she played that role for many of us. She and I literally worked side by side for several years. Our desks, located in the large open space outside Suzanne’s office (a space I called “the fish bowl”), were separated only by an old sofa, the resting spot for tired editors and especially for Gloria, who caught quick naps after taking the red eye back from the coast. Mary’s desk was piled high with manuscripts. In my memory’s eye, it was a huge pile, threatening to topple over at the least disturbance. But the amazing thing was that, at any moment, she could thrust her hand into that pile and pull out exactly the piece of paper that was needed. In much the same way, Mary could dig into her brain and extract the precise fact about women’s history or about Ms. history that anyone needed.
Last fall, Mary Kay Blakely, a Ms. contributing writer and my dear friend, asked me to talk to a seminar she was teaching at the University of Missouri journalism school on women and media. The subject was media coverage of rape. I had been Mary Kay’s editor on a long article about the New Bedford gang rape and been involved with other rape stories in the magazine. But I needed to refresh my memory. So I turned to Mary’s history of Ms. I was so impressed by the balanced tone and the honesty that Mary brought to that history that I immediately re-read several sections of the book and then sent her an email telling her of my admiration. She replied, with her usual modesty, “thank you.”
In the past few years, I was fortunate enough to have Mary as my editor again. I wrote three features for her at the Women’s Media Center, and I feel lucky to have renewed that relationship. Of course, this time around, everything was done online rather than face-to-face and in hard copy. But it was as if we had picked up an old rhythm, a familiar conversation.
But Mary was much more than a great editor. My daughter, Liisa, when she was two or three, would ride the office’s toy car around to our various desks and deliver the mail (a tradition that I’ve learned her nephew Thom started). She particularly loved playing “bumpy” with Mary’s desk and chair. I used to wonder if Liisa’s jolts would topple the paper pile or when Mary would lose her temper and tell Liisa to cut it out. I don’t remember that she ever did. Mary didn’t suffer fools easily but she was patient with kids (and it was wonderful to see how much she enjoyed Kumi).
Mary was a great cook and so pleased with her new kitchen. I have a set of various flavors of coarse salt that she gave me last year. I will think of her whenever I use them and likely shed some salty tears. Despite the tragic way she died, I know Mary enjoyed riding that motorcycle. She rode it downtown to join me on a visit to the Occupy Wall Street encampment (I took the subway), but the cops wouldn’t let her park it anywhere nearby so she turned around and rode it back home. She visited Ari and me in the Berkshires last summer, riding up from the city. Joanne was there, too. Ari took a picture of Mary and her motorcycle before she left. She rode back with tomatoes from the farmer’s market tucked into a pocket of the cycle. We asked her to let us know when she had arrived home. She reported that she got home fine, but the tomatoes were crushed. I had looked forward to another opportunity this summer to send her home with whole tomatoes.
She was true to herself, a true feminist, a good friend, and a role model for younger women like my daughter. Thank you, Mary.
—Ellen Sweet, May 8, 2013
Are you now guiding us and growing our writing and projects from another realm. Too shocked and saddened to accept your loss, that is how I think of you now continuing to value your feminism, your kindness, your high standards and giving support. As I remember back to the beginning of feminism and how many of us truly embraced feminist sisterhood, that rare and new gift we created for ourselves then continued in all of my interactions with you. I treasure every moment of them. You enriched my life and you did my writing. Your spirit is with us... Kathleen Barry
—Kathleen Barry, May 7, 2013
Elizabeth Barrett Browning described George Sand as "large-brained" and "large-hearted." That was Mary Thom. Her brilliance as an editor began when she conveyed to a writer exactly what she needed and ended with her deft help in getting there. The lovely result was that both writer and editor ended up pleased. And underneath it all? A sturdy kindness.
—Rosalie Maggio, May 7, 2013
Mary was a great editor--the best one I have every worked with--and a fine human being. That's a powerful combination.
It's why Mary's editing was so influential. She shaped ideas, made them better than they were when they were handed to her. She was authentic and therefore so was her writing and editing.
Others have spoken of Mary's calm, centered personality that shaped her similarly calm and centered way of approaching her work. I never understood how she could take my writing, squeeze out fully 1/4 of the words, and return a draft that was better than what I sent her, yet with all of the meaning and my voice intact. Without tracked changes, I often had no idea what she excised. It seemed miraculous to me, especially when I'd send her a draft at 10pm and it came back in improved version somewhere around 2am.
But of course, it was no miracle; it was Mary doing what she was meant to do.
Mary's contributions to the women's movement were many and profound, if little known beyond the inner circle of the women I call the uber-feminists. What a loss her death is to us all.
Condolences to Susan, Thom, Mariko, Kumi, and all who knew and loved Mary.
Love, light, and peace,
—Gloria Feldt, President, Take The Lead , May 6, 2013
I am enriched by the lifetime of women's pages Mary made possible through her encouragement, her singular brain power, her insight, her originality, her energy, her feminist consciousness and her "wild and precious life". And whenever I suggested a writer she never ever said: Who?
—Donna Deitch, Womens Media Center Board , May 6, 2013
Mary was my first boss in New York. And she was everything you would ever want -- patient, kind, finding humor in the most ridiculous things.
As her charge, she was quick to show me the art of editing. And teach me a little about how to keep your moral compass in a rapidly changing world.
—Mary Suh, May 6, 2013
Mary Thom was a hero. She wrote. She edited.She knew all things. She was fun to be around. We went to events with Joanne. She showed up at all Ms gatherings but also at 4th of July fireworks at Joanne's. She and Joanne were so supportive of me at the Council. She loved her nephew and her sister. she shared what she was up to. She is already badly missed.
—Gale A. Brewer, City Council, May 6, 2013
Mary was the best editor I ever had. I began writing as a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune during the summer. Later I wrote op-eds and
articles for Republican publications and when
I joined the feminist movement in the early seventies, I met Mary.
She was willing to accept a Republican feminist and didn't make fun of my party affiliation unlike many others during the horrendous days of Nixon.
As the years passed, Mary was always there to
urge me to write what I believed and then gently but firmly would s traighten out my syntax and points that made no sense.
When my book, "The Republican War Against Women", Mary was one of the first to call and
congratulate me for what I had written. She encouraged me to talk and wirite about my leaving my birthright political affiliations and to
As the years passed, she'd call and ask if I had
something new to say. We laughed about how
the GOP had become the "stupid" party and that I 'd gotten out before it ate us all.
Last spring, she called and asked me to write
something about The Republican War Against Women and how , at last, the presidential candidate for president had embraced the issue that she and I had been discussing for
over twenty years. I told her I had nothing to add for the moment, that now the country knew what we had known for years. When Obama won, we agreed that it would soon be time in 2013 to assess where the nation was going.
We agreed a reassessment would come in the
next few months. Alas, my dear beloved friend
is now gone. I loved her intelligence, her wry sense of humor and most of all her kindness.
Mary, you cared for us all. Now you can help the angels sing more beautifully as you helped as mere mortals.
—Tanya Melich, May 6, 2013
Thank you Mary. I will always remember you for making my writing look good and for amplifying my voice. We are your legacy around the globe.
Dr. Achola Pala Okeyo
—Achola Pala Okeyo , May 6, 2013
For a life well lived. Into the
eternal light. Peace.
—Janet Dewart Bell, May 6, 2013
The Womens Media Cemter means a lot fo my young women students at NYU. And Ms. meant a lot to a one-day-to-be-gay young man like me. (And my sister went to Bryn Mawr). So I'm very grateful to Mary Thom for her wonderful courage and talent.
—Kevin Scott, NYU, May 6, 2013
I had the honor of representing Mary for her book about Ms, INSIDE MS and I recall that she was a total pro throughout the whole process. The book was great, it did well and we even had a movie option for a while. Wouldn't that have been a wonderful film ...
—Sarah Lazin, May 6, 2013
If there was ever anyone who marched to her own drummer, it was Mary. Our paths began crossing in the early days at Ms. and then through the years at various feminist events, rallies, fundraisers and, most recently, at the Paris Health Club where we greeted each other heartily at the pool. She was a true independent spirit, and her death is a great loss to us all.
—Merle Froschl, May 6, 2013
So many memories of Ms. upstairs and the Women's Action Alliance downstairs--sharing copiers, planning to change the world, demonstrating, and feeling that sisrerhood really is powerful. Mary, you were always at the core.
—Barbara Sprung, May 6, 2013
Freshman roommates at BMC; laughs and late night talks while getting to know our way around. After college years visits in Manhattan, keeping loose ties across our varied pathways. Mary helped me find my way through a sex discrimination suit when I was barred from participation at car racing events in New Jersey for being a woman! With her help, times were changed. Now we are matured like wine, and her demise so sudden, saddening. I have to think, "Well done, Mary, and peace now, too."
—A. Perry Burling Hanscom, BMC 1966, May 6, 2013
Kind, generous and so supportive of other women!
Mary made it a delight to write for Ms.!
—Carole Ashkinaze Kay, May 6, 2013
Seeing Mary and her sister Susan at JAWS CAMP every year was something to look forward to. Mary always had time to share her expertise and experience with others. She happily offered an understanding ear and shared her wisdom with many of us in JAWS. We will miss her very much.
—Becky Day, Journalism & Women Symposium, May 6, 2013
Mary was a great editor to work with at WMC Features. She always respected my writing yet never failed to let me know if something needed reorganizing. The articles are better for her involvement. That's a hard balancing act that not many editors manage. She brought a lot of heart, every time.
—Mary Ann Swissler, May 6, 2013
For over forty years Mary was a trusted colleague and an increasingly intimate friend. She became an important link in my "circle of trust" and her no-nonsence wisdom, dignity, and humor cannot be replaced.
—suzanne levine, May 6, 2013
Mary, I will miss you, I am very grateful to Robin for her generosity in having introduced us when I was pestering her with urgent items from "Af/Pak" and Ms. had become a bi-monthly/later quarterly. You gave me a voice, we were late night, online activists together. In the features I wrote for you we were able to move legislatures, governments to do the right thing for women in the "Af/Pak" theater beyond the guns. You tempered my anger, yet letting me express it. I was devastated to hear that you were gone; but the next day when I heard you went all cylinders blazing, I smiled. Till we meet again.
—Shazia Rafi, Parliamentarians for Global Action, May 5, 2013
It was an honor and a blessing to work with Mary. I had the privilege of writing two features under Mary's editorial leadership, and both experiences strengthened and enlivened me as a writer. Mary's earnest, honest, and heart-driven approach to her work and life was beautiful to behold. I'm glad she touched so many during her time on this earth. May her legacy and memory will continue to inspire and empower for countless years to come.
—Jamia Wilson, Feminist Writer, Storyteller, Activist/Former Women's Media Center VP of Programs, May 5, 2013
Here's a piece about Mary that I posted on my blog, Women and Hollywood
The feminist movement suffered a huge loss this weekend with the death of Mary Thom. Mary Thom was a long time editor at Ms. Magazine where she arrived in 1972, and rose through the ranks to be its executive editor. She literally wrote the book on Ms. Magazine's history with Inside Ms.: 25 Years of the Magazine and the Feminist Movement.
I met Mary about six or seven years ago when we started to work together at the Women's Media Center. She edited me everyday. She was also the person who encouraged me and edited the longer pieces that I wrote for the Women's Media Center when I was just starting to think about how to frame the issues on my blog. She made me understand how important an editor was. Many bloggers don't have editors and we all suffer for it. When Mary edited anything I wrote, it was so much better. She was able to take my words and thoughts and make them sound professional.
When I wrote the introduction for my book In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing the only person I wanted to edit it was Mary Thom. She gave of herself freely and quickly and was an enormous help. I still remember when I got the email back from her telling me that she thought it worked. It was a huge relief because I knew that if Mary said it flowed, it flowed.
I was very much looking forward to seeing Mary in a couple of weeks at an event to celebrate the publication of In Her Voice. When I sent her the invitation she was one of the first to respond and sent me an email about how happy and proud she was that I got the book done.
She was a true and wonderful collaborator and I will miss her greatly.
—Melissa Silverstein, Women and Hollywood, May 5, 2013
It goes without saying that without Mary Thom, there would be no Women's Media Center, or at least not one with the superior reputation it has in publishing serious women's work. It takes a serious woman to tackle all of the issues that have been covered by WMC--domestic, international, controversial. Mary had the perfect editor's eye: she understood the issues, and she knew how to make the telling of the stories better. We owe her an immense gratitude for making us all look smart.
The other thing I loved about Mary was her spirit: in my mind's eye I still envision her on her bike, taking on the countryside as well as the street of Manhattan. She was a brave woman--that was always encouraging to me.
And she was a gentle person, a fully evolved, secure, kind human being. I loved joining her to listen to her nephew Thom's music: Mary and her friends jammed into a corner of Joe's Pub, celebrating our joint nephew at play. I cherish those memories.
I am so pleased that WMC is designating The Art of Editing Award in Mary Thom's name. It is truly an art to be informed and intuitive enough to make words dazzle on the page for a writer--and have the writer take no offense, indeed to be thrilled.
Thanks Mary for the many years of artistry..We miss you.
—Carol Jenkins, Founding President, The Women's Media Center, May 5, 2013
Mary was a consummate pro, a pleasure to work for, an encouragement and a support always. She had a rare ability to understand the oneness of words and politics and she will be missed in many ways.
—Paula DiPerna, May 5, 2013
I just counted at my site - and I have written 25 features for Women’s Media Center over the years, and had the honor of working with Mary on each one. I always treasured working with her, from pitch, to submission, to receiving her thoughtful, precise edits to my pieces, which were always improvements. All of the articles I pitched to her over the years were on topics, issues or people I cared deeply about, and each time she gave me an assignment, I was always so grateful to have Women’s Media Center as its home. I learned so much about my writing and writing in general from working with Mary – and whenever she did give me feedback or edits, it was always with such warmth, gentleness and humor. Mary was such a brilliant editor and a very special person, someone who I greatly admired for all she has contributed to journalism and women’s causes – and for her positive influence on me personally. I will miss working with her, and miss her sweet, encouraging emails, and her supportive, gracious, generous spirit. I know she will be kept alive in our hearts and her impact on the world.
—Marianne Schnall, Writer and Women's Media Center Progressive Women's Voices alumnae, May 5, 2013
Having only joined the Women's Media Center a couple of months ago I have already had the pleasure of working alongside exceptionally talented women and Mary Thom was one of them. I first met Mary at WMC's staff retreat early in March and she was just as pleasant and innovative as everyone on staff had informed me. I was most impressed by her genuine sense of character. She kept it real, and any woman who can be true to herself and others makes them an unforgettable character in my book. I am truly going to miss her morning emails letting everyone on staff know of WMC's daily Features.
—Sayda Zelaya, Assistant to the President, Women's Media Center, April 27, 2013
Upon meeting Mary for the first time, I could tell that she exuded a kind of history and strength.
—Michele Lent Hirsch, Associate Editor, Women's Media Center's Women Under Siege, April 27, 2013
Mary and I were both members of the journalism and women symposium (JAWS). Mary was a long-time member and they always have an annual retreat. I've been a member for 6 years or so and I've never gone to this retreat but I was definitely planning on going for the first time this year. And it can be intimidating to go to something like this, you can feel that everyone already knows each other because they've been going for years. But I thought "well at least I'll see Mary there, and that'll be one friendly face in the group." Plus I don't get to see Mary all that often, so it was something to look forward to. But it was when this same group started sharing memories of Mary from this retreat (which is how many of them first met her) that I realized "oh…Mary's not going to be there this year." It just hit me so strongly that she was gone.
—Rachel Larris, Communications Manager, Women's Media Center, April 27, 2013
Mary – our editor-in-chief extraordinaire – ran the features section of the Women's Media Center. In January 2012, we updated our website and moved all the hundreds of features that Mary had commissioned, edited and published, from our old, broken system to our shiny new website. The changeover was messy. It required many late nights and back and forth emails. It required Mary learning a completely new system – bulk email, content management, comment posting and more - posting on dual sites for a while, and not once did she moan, complain or say it was too much. Not once did a feature not go out. She was calm, gracious, detail focused, and absolutely dedicated to ensuring our writers were respected and the features were the very best they could be. The features section of our website is it's heart. It is where women's voices are heard and women's stories are told — and it is all Mary's doing. We miss her massively - both professionally and personally – and will for many many years to come.
—Kate McCarthy, Director, Women's Media Center's SheSource, April 27, 2013
Mary wasn't the sort of person to draw attention to herself, and I never saw her do anything you could call "pulling rank." But her editorial judgment carried such authority at the Women's Media Center that there was little disagreement when she argued for or against an idea.
It was always a relief to me when Mary would articulate a concern that I silently, privately shared. Working for an organization built from the ground up by brilliant, passionate, world-changing, and very opinionated women can induce a certain hesitance to tell any of them that they're wrong about something. Including Robin. Even at radio show editorial meetings. Even when critiques were invited and urged. But Mary didn't hesitate, and, amazingly to me, she was rarely met with much resistance. It isn't that she delivered such judgments in a harsh way—she didn't—or that she was impossible to please—she wasn't. Rather, I suspect, it's that in all the previous decades of their working together, at Ms. and in the movement, Robin had learned—as we at the Women's Media Center were now learning--that Mary's critiques were usually right.
—Michelle Kinsey Bruns, Online Manager for the Women's Media Center & Technical Director for "Women's Media Center Live", April 27, 2013
As part of the radio show team, Mary wore her usual editor hat offering constructive critiques, suggestions and feedback, but she also was one of the show’s chief supporters.
“Congratulations Robin and crew! You folks actually pulled it off! Love, Mary,” she said in an e-mail after the show’s successful launch last year on Women’s Equality Day.
“Brava, and bravi!” she wrote after a September show featuring a stellar lineup of guests and commentaries.
She was vacationing in France when our first show aired on CBS: “You sound tres tres bien from France as well! Love, Mary,” she exclaimed in a midnight e-mail.
And, after a run of especially good shows:
“Can you all keep it up????” she quipped.
Robin spoke for us all in her reply: “OHHHhh Mary, I do adore you.”
—Cristal Williams Chancellor, Senior Producer, "Women's Media Center Live with Robin Morgan", April 27, 2013
We are shaken and reeling at the sudden passing of our irreplaceable editor-in-chief, Mary Thom. Mary was one of the great writers, editors, and visionaries of the women's movement, and the heart and soul of the Women's Media Center's feature writing. From her work in the early days of Ms. Magazine right up until this week, hers was a clear, strong voice for equality—and her editorial talents lifted so many other voices as well. Mary, we miss you already.
—Julie Burton, President of the Women's Media Center and Executive Producer of Women's Media Center Live, April 27, 2013