Rose Marie Thomas, wife of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, passes away in Beverly Hills

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (ALSAC)
Wednesday, 12 July 2000

Services to be held in Memphis and Los Angeles

(Memphis, Tennessee, July 12, 2000) Rose Marie Thomas, the widow of Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® in Memphis, Tennessee, passed away in her Beverly Hills home Wednesday morning. She died peacefully in her sleep.

After her husband's death in 1991, Mrs. Thomas carried on as President of ALSAC®, the hospital's fund-raising arm. In recognition of her humanitarian work, Mrs. Thomas was named Lady Commander with Star of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre by his Holiness, Pope Paul VI.

Born Rose Marie Cassaniti, Mrs. Thomas had a singing career with her own radio show in Detroit, Michigan, where she met Danny Thomas, then a struggling young comic. They were married on January 15, 1936, and had three children, Marlo, Terre and Tony Thomas, who survive her. She is survived by five grandchildren and three sisters.

"St. Jude has lost a friend, a mentor and a leader," said Richard C. Shadyac, ALSAC National Executive Director. "Without the support and encouragement of Rose Marie, Danny could never have made his dream of saving children with catastrophic diseases come true. She was not only an inspiration to Danny, she was an inspiration to all of us who are part of the St. Jude family.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Thomas family at this difficult time. We are all grieved and saddened by the loss of this wonderful lady."

Services in Los Angeles will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Friday, July 14 at 2 p.m. The family will then accompany Mrs. Thomas to Memphis, where she will be interred with her husband at the Danny Thomas Memorial Gardens on the hospital grounds (332 N. Lauderdale). Mrs. Thomas will lie in state in the Danny Thomas Pavilion Sunday, July 16 from 6-8 p.m. A mass will be held Monday morning at 10 a.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church, 5192 Shady Grove Road. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the endowment fund of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Although her singing career ended when she married, Mrs. Thomas remained active in a wide variety of outside activities, most notably her support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the world-renowned research and treatment center for childhood catastrophic diseases. She served as president of the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities®, the hospitals fund-raising arm, for almost a decade after Danny Thomas' death. She was also instrumental in the hospital's work, traveling extensively with her husband starting in the 1950s and throughout the next four decades as he sought financial support for St. Jude. She often accompanied him on his visits to the institution and to events around the country.

Mrs. Thomas was a life member of St. John's Hospital and Health Center Guild, a perpetual member of the Mary and Joseph League, the Maronite Guild, the Screen Smart Set Auxiliary for the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Eucharistic Orphanage of Lebanon and the Women's Auxiliary of Permanent Charities of the Entertainment Industry.

She has received awards from Mt. Sinai Hospital and Clinic, the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, B'nai B'rith and E.S.A. International and has received commendations from the Mayors of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills for her civic accomplishments.

Rose Marie Thomas was named St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's "Volunteer of the Decade, 1980-1989" for her efforts for the hospital. She organized a fund-raising dinner that was a highlight of the Los Angeles social scene for many years and is now carried on by her children.

For more information, or to contact St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (ALSAC), see their website at: www.stjude.org

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