November 17, 2009

Lera Thomas

Born Lera Millard on August 3, 1900 in Nacogdoches, Texas, she attended Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, and the University of Alabama. She married Albert Thomas in 1922 and would have two daughters, Ann and Lera. When Albert Thomas was elected to Congress in 1936, they moved to Washington, DC where they stayed for the rest of his life.

On February 15, 1966, her husband died and a special election was called on March 26, 1966 to elect another Representative. Lera Millard Thomas was the first woman elected to Congress from the State of Texas, when she was elected as a Democrat in the special election to succeed her deceased husband. She received over 74% of the vote against Republican Louis Leman who urged voters to vote for the widow Thomas. She served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee where she supported funds to expand the Houston Ship Channel. Because he died after filing for office in 1966, Albert Thomas's name remained on the Democratic Primary ballot for the 8th District and his widow determined that she would not seek a full term for 1967. State Representative Bob Eckhardt won the primary for a full term.

After serving the remainder of her husband's term, Thomas left Congress on January 3, 1967 and served as special liaison for the Houston Chronicle to members of the armed services in Vietnam. When she returned from Vietnam, Thomas founded Millard's Crossing Historic Village in Nacogdoches. She resided in Nacogdoches until her death there on July 23, 1993 and was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery.

GPS Coordinates
31° 36.265, -094° 38.909


Oak Grove Cemetery
Nacogdoches

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