Obituary for Margaret Lucie Thomas
February 3, 1947 – December 16, 2020
Margaret Lucie Thomas, daughter of Leon Richards Thomas and Catherine Agnes Richardson Thomas, passed away peacefully December 16th, 2020, at the age of 73.
Lucie, the name she said she “grew into” during her years as the associate rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Duluth, Minnesota, was a native Californian who, she said, developed a ‘world view’ while attending high school at Wasatch Academy in Utah, a small boarding school which drew students from remote western ranches, national parks, native reservations and a number of foreign nations.
A Fulbright scholarship to Peru after graduation with an anthropology degree from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, provided her first immersive exposure to Central and South American cultures.
Graduate work toward her Masters in Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis under Barry Commoner found her sampling mothers milk in the fields of Guatemala to measure pesticide buildup. She recalled being aggressively sprayed by crop dusters while collecting samples in the field. Her work played a role in the banning of DDT.
A chance encounter with Ianto Evans on a Guatemalan volcano led to hitch hiking to and throughout Central America, marriage and their joint founding in Oregon of Aprovecho, (which she defined as, “I make the best use of.”). Their work included introducing fuel efficient clay cooking stoves to the people of Central America, Lesotho (a small country inside South Africa), and Botswana.
Her experiences in Central America, and the assassination of her Guatemalan mentor, led to a decade of working on humanitarian relief and human rights with the Portland based Council for Human Rights in Latin America. As well as arranging food shipments to the people of Central America, she led congressional delegations to giving American politicians first hand experience with the political, social and economic realities in the area. Her fluency in Spanish, with its many cultural variations, was exceptional.
Portland church members encouraged her to pursue the priesthood, and after earning a Masters of Divinity from Berkeley’s Church Divinity School of the Pacific, she served eight years as the associate rector at St. Paul’s in Duluth, Minnesota, before being called to St Andrew’s in Nogales, Arizona, for almost a decade. Before returning to her California roots and family ranch, which she considered home, she served as the interim rector of St. Paul’s in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She retired in 2018 after three years as rector of Holy Family Episcopal Church in San Jose, CA, and moved to Nevada City in closer proximity to her brother Richard and his family where she attended Emmanuel Episcopal church in Grass Valley.
She is survived by her brother Richard, his wife Theresa, niece Celia Thomas Tate and her husband Lukas, nephew Eric Thomas Black and his wife Chris, grand nephews Cade and Conall, numerous cousins, her Aunt Eleanor Sherry, and her friends at Eskaton and around the world.
“Hard to believe you are gone,” wrote niece Celia. “You were truly an inspiration for strong, independent women everywhere. You did great things with your time on earth. You will be missed Aunt Lucie.”
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