Thelma Lois Spencer, age 92, passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loved ones in Zirconia, North Carolina on Monday, October 23, 2023. Born in Kansas City, Missouri on January 21, 1931, she was the daughter of the late Guy Weston Spencer and Elizabeth Mae (Watley) Spencer.
A graduate from Westport High School in Kansas City in 1948, Thelma relocated to Washington, D. C. in 1949 for a government job with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 1951, she married her first husband and settled in Northern Virginia, retiring from the SEC to raise her three children. She embraced motherhood and was involved in various activities revolving around her children, including the PTA, Little League, and Sunday School. When her youngest entered public school, she decided to enroll in George Mason University on a part-time basis. She fulfilled a dream by earning both a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1972 and a Master of Education in 1975 from George Mason University.
In early 1981, Thelma relocated to the Ozarks in Missouri and began her teaching career. She taught English and Public Speaking at Rutledge Junior College in Springfield, Missouri and became their Dean of Students in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, Thelma began to pursue another lifelong dream which was to become a full-time author and publisher. She specialized in helping people write their memoirs, and she published them as well (first with Denlinger Publishers and later with her own company, Thelton Hall Books). Her passion for publishing yielded over sixteen different titles, and she continued to write and publish for the remainder of her life.
Thelma was devoted to various causes throughout her life. She loved people, nature, poetry, books, music, and dance. She was an ardent advocate for women’s rights and was proud of the fact that she had met and interviewed Alice Paul, author of the Equal Rights Amendment, prior to Miss Paul’s passing in 1977. She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina at the time of her death. She was a proud supporter of the George Mason University Alumni Association, the National Women’s Party, and the Ozark Writers League, among many others.
Thelma was preceded in death by her husband, George H. Snyder; her parents, Guy Weston and Elizabeth Mae Spencer; her brother, Doyne W. Spencer; her grandson, Ryan McLaughlin; and her nephew, Herschel D. Fonville.
She is survived by her sister, Wilma L. Klaerner; and her three children, Michael W. McLaughlin (Barbara), Steven F. McLaughlin (Sharon), and Kathryn McLaughlin Roberts. She is also survived by her beloved grandchildren, Lauren Longo (John), Sarah Bradley (Kevin), Aimee Vasek (Bryan), Patrick Donlay (Annie), Mary Lee (Adam), William Roberts, and Regan McLaughlin; as well as treasured great-grandchildren, Jack and Marian Longo, Dylan and Alex Bradley, and Jesse, Logan and Spencer Lee. She also leaves to cherish her memory, her nieces, caregivers, and many friends.
A celebration of Thelma’s life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, LLS Donor Services, P.O. Box 22324, New York, New York 10087; Cornell Lab of Ornithology (https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/give/#); the National Women’s Party (now the Alice Paul Institute), P.O. Box 1376, Mt. Laurel, New Jersey 08054, or Four Seasons Hospice (https://fourseasonsfdn.org/ways-to-give/give-today/), in memory of Thelma L. Spencer.