Our mother, Roberta “Bobbie” Thomas, a long-time resident of the Philadelphia area, died on Monday, August 12, 2019. She was 81 years old. Bobbie was born on July 8, 1938, in New York City. She was a loving mother, a proud teacher, a formidable advocate, and a caring and devoted friend. We will miss her.
Bobbie received her Bachelor of Arts in English and French from the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York in 1958. She attended the Sorbonne, University of Paris, 1957-58 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching in English and French from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut in 1962.
Bobbie’s passion animated every endeavor she pursued. She taught French and English at the Baldwin School and Harcum Junior College in the 1960s, and Friends’ Central School in the 1970s, where she was fondly known by her students as “Madame Thomas.” Bobbie loved teaching, and she loved her students. After the birth of her son Jesse, who was born deaf, Bobbie left teaching to become a tireless advocate for the educational and linguistic rights of deaf children. She founded the Action Alliance of Parents of the Deaf in Ardmore, Pennsylvania as a resource for parents of deaf children. Bobbie went on to serve as an early intervention specialist at the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Boston, Massachusetts and then became the executive director of the American Society for Deaf Children in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Returning to Philadelphia in 1990, Bobbie became the Director of Alumni and Parent Relations at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. Bobbie never gave up her love of teaching. In her retirement, she taught English, part-time, at the Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA, concluding a career devoted to human service, advocacy, and education.
Bobbie was also an accomplished pianist in her youth and a lover of the arts. Bobbie enjoyed going to the ballet, opera, theater and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Bobbie is survived by her three children, Noel Trask, Amanda Trask and Jesse Thomas, her siblings, Arthur Kirsch and Susan Greenberg and her six grandchildren, Daniel Trask-Young, Emily Trask-Young, Hannah Trask, Adam Trask, Frida Thomas and Mona Thomas.
If you would like to receive information about her memorial service, please email BobbieMemorial@gmail.com. The address of her memorial website is:
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the American Society for Deaf Children in her name.
Checks “in memory of Roberta Thomas” can be mailed to:
American Society for Deaf Children PO Box 23 Woodbine, MD 21797
For online donations, please visit http://deafchildren.org/donate/ and make a note, “in memory of Roberta Thomas,” in the “Special Instructions” section of the form.