Gila River Indian Community mourns loss of first female leader

Mary V. Thomas, 1944-2014. Photo from Gila River News

Mary Thomas, the first woman to lead the Gila River Indian Community of Arizona, died last Thursday. She was 70.

Thomas served two terms as the tribe's governor and twice as lieutenant governor. She worked to bring infrastructure to the reservation and was the face of a successful statewide Indian gaming referendum in 2002.

"It is a great loss to our community," Gov. Gregory Mendoza told The Arizona Republic. "She was always very gentle, very soft-spoken. Her career was characterized by integrity. She gave a lot of inspiration to others to lead."

The tribe is holding a public service for Thomas tomorrow. A private burial takes place Thursday.

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Mary Thomas, first woman to lead Gila River, dies at 70 (The Arizona Republic 8/23)

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