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Mary Thom: Feminist writer and historian who co-founded and edited 'Ms.' magazine


Mary Thom, who died in a motorcycle accident on 26 April at the age of 68, was a writer and former editor of Ms. magazine who was also an avid motorcyclist.

She died riding her 1996 Honda Magna 750 on a road just north of New York City. Thom was reported to have clipped a passing vehicle, which threw her off the bike.

“The important thing to know about Mary is that she was a major leader of the ’70s feminist movement, but never desired the limelight,” her nephew Tom Loubet said. “She stayed behind the scenes tirelessly crafting the message and simply making it better.”

Thom was one of Ms. magazine’s founding members and served as an editor there for around 20 years, leaving in 1992. She also wrote a book about the history of Ms. and was a co-author, with Suzanne Braun Levine, of an oral history of the former congresswoman and activist Bella Abzug. Most recently, Thom was the editor-in-chief of the Women’s Media Centre’s features department, which produces reports and commentaries by national and international contributors.

Thom, who was born in Akron, Ohio, had lived for decades in New York, where she became one of the women’s movement’s best editors. “She had a gift for helping people tell their own story, not for helping them sound like others, but helping them find their own voice,” Gloria Steinem said.

Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, where Thom was an editor-in-chief, said, “Mary was one of the great writers, editors, and visionaries of the women’s movement, and the heart and soul of Women’s Media Center’s feature writing.”

Thom loved baseball, especially the Cleveland Indians, her nephew Tom Loubet said, and adored Jon Stewart’s hit Comedy Central programme, The Daily Show.