her Washington, DC apartment, at the age of 92, following a long bout
with her final illness.
According to wire services reports, Thomas made her name as a bulldog
for United Press International in the great wire-service rivalries of
old, and as a pioneer for women in journalism.
One White House press secretary described her questioning as “torture”
because of her pointed questions to presidents. “She was persistent to
the point of badgering,” one White House secretary, who was one of her
fans, commented, according to the wire service agency Newsmax, which
released that report after Thomas’ death was made public.
She became the first female White House bureau chief for a wire
service when UPI named her to the position in 1974.
She was also the first female officer at the National Press Club,
where women had once been barred as members, and she had to fight for
admission into the 1959 luncheon speech where Soviet Premier Nikita
Khrushchev warned: “We will bury you,” to the United States due to the
relationship with Cuba.
Despite all her controversies, she still lived in the nation’s capital
and maintained an aura of respectability among her colleagues and was
respected by many.
She became an institution at the White House press corps and will be missed.