A legend in the State College community has “crossed over”. Thelma T. Price (nee Thomas) is absent from her mortal body, but present with our wonderful Lord Jesus. She was born in Detroit, Michigan on June 11, 1925 to Oscar and Fannie Mae Thomas (nee Graham). After the death of her birth father, her mother remarried to Boyd Cox of Camp Hill, Alabama. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her older brother, Dr. Walter A. Thomas of Columbus, Ohio and her first son William I. “Skeety” White who served as a PFC with the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
She achieved a B.A. in Social Studies from Bennett College and a M.Ed. in History from the University of Pittsburgh in 1947. She was a political activist and was deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement and worked on a number of Civil Rights initiatives. In 1977; Thelma was elected the first charter president of the State College NAACP, and served in the role for several terms.
Known as “Mom” Price during her tenure with Penn State from 1964-1986, she served in a number of capacities that included: Assistant Dean of Students at the New Kensington campus, acting Director of the ACT 101/ Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) at University Park in 1971, and became the first African-American woman to be promoted to Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs in 1972. In her role as Assistant VP, she acted as a key liaison between students, administration, and state legislators on many issues during the turbulent early 1970s. She served on several critical task teams, but she is best known for her advocacy of minority student concerns. Thelma worked on the front-lines often finding book money, food, housing, and clothes for needy students. She also located untapped resources for student programming, such as the Black Arts Festival. She frequently used her business connections to help students obtain internships and full-time employment, and she actively mentored staff and faculty members.
Following her retirement from Penn State in 1986; Thelma continued to live an active life of service. She became an active community advocate through the State College Area High School, Stand for Children, Housing Transitions Inc., and Mom’s Kitchen, which provided free hot meals. She sat on the boards of organizations that included: CentrePeace, Inc. and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Board. She was also a longstanding member of State College Kiwanis where she served on the board and as vice-president. She was a member of the University Baptist and Brethren Church and the Unity Church of Jesus Christ in State College, Pa.
She is survived by a former husband, Curtis W. Price of Pittsburgh, PA. A step-brother, Andrew B. Cox of North Vandergrift, Pa., and a cousin, Ralph Cox of Las Vegas, Nevada. Her birth daughter and son; Carla M. Proby and Curtis B. Price, and her daughter-in –law, Marjory Price all currently residing in State College, Pa. She is also survived by three grandchildren; Carl E.Proby, Jr., William I. Price and Candace M. Price. She is survived by several nieces and nephews that include: Konrad B. Thomas, N. Brett Thomas and Lenore M. Thomas, Alan Cox, Andrew B. Cox, Jr., Anthony Cox, Alvin Cox, Angela Fisher and Anna Wright. She was also mother to many Penn State alumni whom she considered her children.
A memorial celebration service will be held in her remembrance at the State College Assembly of God Church on Saturday, January 18 from 12-2pm.