Vera Elizabeth (Mayfield) Thomas passed away June 15, 2018, at Fellowship Square in Mesa, Arizona. She was 95.
She was born July 14, 1922, in Stillwater, Oklahoma to William Thomas Mayfield and Mary Estella (Finn) Mayfield. She attended one-room country schools in Payne County, Oklahoma, before the family sold the farm and moved to town in 1928. She graduated from Stillwater High School in 1939. A top student, she was the Oklahoma state high school shorthand and typing champion. In 1939, she married Archie Carithers Thomas, also of Stillwater. They were married for 48 years, until his passing in 1988.
She and Archie lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma and Lake Charles, Louisiana in the 1940s. They moved to Hays in 1946, where Archie taught for 27 years as a professor of business at Fort Hays Kansas State College (later Fort Hays State University). Vera earned a B.S. in Education from Fort Hays State in 1955. She then worked as an executive secretary for Service Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil, for 10 years.
Vera went back to Fort Hays and obtained a Master of Arts in English in 1967. Shortly thereafter, she began teaching as an instructor in the business department, later the School of Business Administration, at Fort Hays State. From 1968 to 1973, she took summer school courses in computer science at Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Hawaii, and began teaching college courses in COBOL, Fortran, and other data processing languages at Fort Hays in the early 1970s, at a time when there were few women professors of computer science in the United States. She became an Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor of Business Administration at Fort Hays State University, before retiring in 1982. During her time as a Fort Hays State faculty member, she served on the tenure committee and various search committees for department chairs and the university president
After retiring from teaching, Vera volunteered in the medical records department at Hadley Regional Medical Center in Hays, Kansas. While living in Hays, she also was active in the First United Methodist Church, the Fort Hays Faculty Wives Club, the Lincoln School PTA, the DeMolay Mothers Club, and a sewing club that endured for more than 30 years.
In 1984, she and Archie moved to Mesa, Arizona, where she lived for 27 years in the Leisure World retirement community. She volunteered in the Leisure World health office and the Banner Baywood medical center for more than 20 years. She was also an active member of the Velda Rose United Methodist Church and served as its Financial Secretary for 18 years. During the 1980s and 1990s, she traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and the Caribbean. She moved to Fellowship Square in 2011 and maintained an active routine of card games, billiards, dominoes, and breakfast outings, volunteering in the chaplain’s office, and serving as a tour guide for prospective residents, before transitioning to Fellowship Square’s Oasis assisted living facility in 2015 and the Reflections memory care unit in 2017.
Vera was preceded in death by two brothers, Oran Mayfield and Orval Mayfield, by her husband Archie Thomas, and by her daughter Patricia Thomas Cegelka. She is survived by her son Archie C. Thomas, Jr., of Owasso, Oklahoma; her son Andrew J. Thomas, of Los Angeles, California; her five grandchildren, Bill, Archie III, Miles, Cole and Isabella; and two great-grandchildren, Brennan and Blake.
A memorial service was held at Fellowship Square in Mesa, Arizona on July 23, 2018. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Andrew Thomas, 6233 Orange Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Donations in Vera's memory may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Hays or the Velda Rose United Methodist Church of Mesa, Arizona.