THOMAS: Clara Eileen (nee McCandless) of Strathroy
Clara died peacefully on September 22, 2013. She was born on May 22, 1919, the daughter of Basil McCandless and Mabel Sullivan McCandless of Strathroy, Ontario, and had enjoyed every year of her long life. She grew up in Strathroy and was educated there and at the University of Western Ontario (B.A. 1941). On her first day at Western in September, 1937, she met Morley Thomas, like herself a freshman scholarship student and there after he was her life’s chosen partner. They were married on May 23, 1942 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he was a Meteorologist at the Service Flying Training School in Dauphin and where they spent the first months of married life, like thousands of young people in those wartime years dispersed all over Canada in war service. In 1945 when peace came, they were posted to the Headquarters of the Meteorological Service in Toronto and there they remained, for Morley had chosen Meteorology as his career. They had two sons, Stephen Morley (1945) and John David (1951). Her years at Western had instilled in Clara a determination to go on to Graduate degrees and from 1943 to 1945 she had worked in the Library at Western where she also successfully studied for an M.A. In post-war years in Toronto, with encouragement from her lifelong academic friend, Brandon Conron, she taught annually in various centres of Western’s Extension network, as well as summering with the family in London where she taught Summer School classes. In 1957, with the boys both in school, she returned to the University of Toronto for a PhD in English which she finished in 1962. In 1961 she was hired by the newly established York University and began teaching when Glendon College opened in the Fall of 1961. In 1968 she moved to the Keele Street campus where she remained teaching for many years after her official retirement in 1984. In 2005 York honoured her by the naming of the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. Until 2007 she retained her office in the Archives of the Scott Library. She published several books, became a Fellow of the Royal Society and received Honorary Degrees from York, Trent and Brock. She was predeceased by her younger son John who died in 2007. She will be mourned by her family, husband Morley, son Steve and Mary Attfield, his wife, grandson, Tyler, the extended Attfield, Richards, Bingham-Wallace and Ray families and by many old and treasured friends and former students. A celebration of her life will be held at York University at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to York University or the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital Foundation.
Arrangements entrusted to Denning Bros. Funeral Home, Strathroy.