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From: "Denise J" <>
Subject: [AL-AfricaAmer-L] Louphenia Thomas, ex-legislator, dies
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 16:24:19 -0500

News staff writer

Louphenia Thomas, ex-legislator, dies

Louphenia Thomas, the first black woman elected to the Alabama Legislature,
died Saturday at the age of 86.

Mrs. Thomas served as a Birmingham Democrat in the state House of
Representatives in 1977-78 after winning a special election to replace
former state Rep. John Porter of Birmingham, who left the Legislature to
serve on the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Mrs. Thomas died at Princeton Baptist Medical Center, said her
granddaughter, Paulette Calhoun of Birmingham.

"If heaven rewards people who help other people, then she has a magnificent
star in the celestial heavens above," said state Rep. Demetrius Newton,
D-Birmingham, a longtime friend.
A businesswoman and educator whose interest in politics was sparked in a
coffee shop, Mrs. Thomas defeated Fred Horn in the 1977 special election,
but lost to Horn in the regular election a year later. Horn went on in the
1980s to become a powerful member of the state Senate.

Mrs. Thomas ran unsuccessfully in 1973 for a seat on the Birmingham City

Though she served a short time in office, Mrs. Thomas remained active in
Democratic politics and once served as a member of the Democratic National
Committee, her granddaughter said.

Mrs. Thomas was a Coosa County native. She and her former husband, Chester
Thomas, briefly lived in Birmingham's Rising community and then moved to
Fairfield. Eventually, she moved back to Birmingham, Ms. Calhoun said.

In Fairfield, Mrs. Thomas began her business career. She owned a beauty
salon and the Cozy Corner Coffee Shop, a popular gathering place.

It was at the coffee shop that Mrs. Thomas got her first taste of politics,
her granddaughter said. Rising black leaders, such as Newton, were among the
regular customers and they sparked Mrs. Thomas' interest in government.

Mrs. Thomas, who lived in Bush Hills, earned a bachelor's degree at Miles
College and a master's degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham,
Ms. Calhoun said. She headed the cosmetology department at Lawson State
Community College and retired in 1985, Ms. Calhoun said. She was an active
member of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.

Besides Ms. Calhoun, she is survived by another granddaughter, Pamela
Whatley of Atlanta. Arrangements will be announced later this week, Ms.
Calhoun said.

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