Mary Thom, 1944-2013

We were all shocked and saddened this weekend to learn of the passing of Mary Thom, an editor for decades at Ms. magazine, a historian of the first 30 years of Ms., and most recently editor-and-chief for the Women’s Media Center.

Thom was riding her motorcycle on the Saw Mill Parkway in Yonkers, N.Y., when she reportedly made contact with an automobile and was thrown from the bike. A longtime cycling enthusiast, she never owned a car, according to her nephew, Thom Loubet. His mother, Susan Loubet, said that her sister had been planning to fly to Albuquerque, N.M., where she kept another motorcycle, and lead a family cycling trip.

“We who are Mary’s friends and family haven’t absorbed her loss yet; it’s too sudden,” said Women’s Media Center cofounders Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda in a statement yesterday. “Ms. magazine, the Women’s Media Center, the women’s movement and American journalism have suffered an enormous blow. Mary was and will always be our moral compass and steady heart.”

Aside from her editing responsibilities, Thom wrote and edited several books, including Inside Ms.: 25 Years of the Magazine and the Feminist Movement, which was a bible to current Ms. editors whenever we needed to recall an historical Ms. moment; Letters to Ms. 1972-1987; and, with another longtime former Ms. editor, Suzanne Braun Levine, 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 … Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way.

“She was always there as a guiding hand to make sure that the spirit of feminism came through in  the writing at Ms. and later at Women’s Media Center,” said Ms. publisher Eleanor Smeal.
She strengthened the writing of two generations of feminists. She will truly be missed.”

We’ll have more on the life and feminist legacy of Mary Thom in the forthcoming issue of Ms. magazine.


Melissa Kort teaches literature and composition at Santa Rosa (CA) Junior College. She writes on topics ranging from Charles Dickens and photography to women’s history.