Carlene Thomas, a former Toledoan who was an assistant to the president of Mau-mee Valley Hospital and was involved in the hospital’s transition into the Medical College of Ohio, died Tuesday in Marietta, Ga.
Mrs. Thomas, 91, had moved from Toledo to the Atlanta area three years ago to be close to her daughter and granddaughter.
At the time of death, she was a patient in a rehabilitation facility where she was being treated for pneumonia that developed after she suffered a broken hip, her daughter, Judith Slane, said. She always considered Toledo home and wanted to be buried here, her daughter said.
Mrs. Thomas was known for her style and elegance, and her Toledo home was the frequent setting for Kentucky Derby parties. Her mother, Nell Bradford, was a Kentucky Colonel, an honor bestowed by the governor, and passed down her love of the derby and its trappings.
Mrs. Thomas was careful in how she presented herself, her daughter said.
“She was always conscious of how she looked,” Mrs. Slane said. “When she came to work on Monday, every hair was in place.”
Mrs. Thomas was born Aug. 4, 1922, in Dry Ridge, Ky., about 35 miles south of Cincinnati. Her family came to Toledo when she was in elementary school.
One of her first jobs was delivering newspapers when she was about 12 years old — an unusual position for a girl in those times, her daughter said.
She was a 1940 graduate of Scott High School and attended the University of Toledo but did not graduate. One of her first jobs was working for a Toledo winery. She also sold real estate with her mother, who had a broker’s license.
In 1952, Mrs. Thomas returned to Dry Ridge to help her mother operate a 35-room hotel she had bought at auction. The Carlsbad Hotel and Spa was on the site of mineral springs, which was part of its attraction.
Mrs. Bradford sold the hotel two years later and the mother-daughter team returned to Toledo, where Mrs. Thomas began working as a private stenographer in the Spitzer Building. At the time, attorneys in the Spitzer Building who did not have enough work to hire their own stenographers contracted with Mrs. Thomas.
She went to work for Maumee Valley Hospital in 1969 as assistant to the president and retired in 2002.
The transformation of Maumee Valley into a medical college, now the University of Toledo Medical Center, was exciting and challenging, Mrs. Slane said. “She thought it was very exciting for Toledo to have its own medical school.”
She also worked in Comprehensive Children’s Services at the hospital and she was the assistant to several chairmen for the medical college’s department of biochemistry.
Mrs. Thomas and her daughter traveled often. They attended several Kentucky derbies and visited New York City nearly every summer to attend Broadway productions, often attending two shows a day and up to five a visit, her daughter said. They traveled to Europe as well.
She married Lewis Thomas in 1942 and they divorced in 1950. She never remarried. He preceded her in death.
Mrs. Thomas is survived by her daughter, Judith Slane; a granddaughter, and two great-granddaughters.
Services will be at 11:30 a.m. Today at Ansberg West Funeral Home, 3000 W. Sylvania Ave.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.
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