‘Feisty’ former first Black female mayor in Washington passes
Carol Ozemhoya| OW Contributor | 5/16/2018, 11:10 a.m.
She was once the mayor of Lakewood, Washington, and the first Black woman to serve in that capacity in the whole state. Dr. Claudia Thomas passed May 12 at the age of 87, reports the News Tribune. She suffered from Alzheimer’s. At services held for her, Dr. Thomas was remembered as a trailblazer, dedicated to education and helping young people. “This woman was feisty,” former Lakewood City Councilwoman Andie Gernon told the News Tribune. She became close friends with Thomas when the two were asked to launch a social-services effort to meet the needs of Lakewood residents. That group became the Lakewood Community Collaboration. That pluckiness was apparent when she convinced comedian Bill Cosby to come to Lakewood to speak to students in 2007 — before allegations publicly surfaced that he sexually assaulted women. When city staff told her they couldn't pin him down on a date, she tracked him down during a show at a casino in Shelton and ambushed him in his dressing room. At that time, his appearance at Clover Park Technical College was a huge hit with children and parents. “She could be absolutely serene and appropriate, but she also had a feisty streak,” Gernon remembered. “She was very passionate. She had clever sayings — for instance, if someone was reluctant to do something she’d say, 'You can't push a wet noodle up a hill.' She was a great organizer, a big picture thinker. She was innovative.”