Albuquerque Journal - July 28, 2003
Celia"Jo" Thomason, 67, an Albuquerque resident of 45 years, passed away July 25, 2003. She struggled to recover after miraculously surviving an arterial hemorrhage in May. She is preceded in death by her father, Clarence Walker Failor. She is survived by her husband of 43 years, Tom W. Thomason, mother Mary Springer Dotts of Honolulu, Hawaii, sister Jane Sage of Denver, Colorado, nieces Amy Vozar and Lisa Powell of Dallas, Texas. She will be deeply missed by her many close friends and co-workers. Jo was a tireless advocate for exceptional children and people with disabilities. With a Doctorate in Education and a Masters Degree from the University of New Mexico and Bachelors degree from the University of Minnesota, Jo dedicated 45 years to teaching special education in New Mexico classrooms and universities world-wide. She was a Special Education Administrator for the Albuquerque Public Schools from 1969 to 1986. She was the Executive Director of the International Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), and a world leader for the advocacy and education of special needs children. She was the leader of the CASE delegation to the then Soviet Union in 1991 and the Chairperson for the 1987-88 International Conference on Special Education held in the People's Republic of China. This was the first open, multi-national conference for special education held in the world with speakers from over 20 countries. She was the President of the Council for Exceptional Children 1981-1982. She consulted with public school systems, state departments of education, universities throughout the United States, the U.S. Department of Education, the Malagasy Republic, the Mental Health Project, NYC and the White House Conference on Handicapped (1978). She was adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico (1980-1997) and visiting faculty member at the University of British Columbia (1987) and presented at over 200 conferences, seminars and institutes in the United States, Canada, England, Wales, the People's Republic of China and the USSR. Jo's Honors include CASE Outstanding Contributor Award (2002- now named the Jo Thomason Award), CEC Outstanding Contributor (1993), NM CEC Award for Outstanding Leadership (named Jo Thomason Award since 1986), Washington State University Outstanding Service Award, New Mexico School Administrators Outstanding Leadership Award. The Special Education community will miss Dr. Jo Thomason's commitment and expertise. Jo was Chairperson of the Foster Grandparents Advisory Board and served on the Albuquerque YWCA Board. Proud to be a liberal democrat, Jo was also an avid traveler, gardener, cross-word puzzler, reader, cook and loved to spend time with her dogs and cats. She will be missed by all her friends and family. Memorial service will be 2:00 P.M. , Friday, August 1 at Sunrise Chapel located at 7601 Wyoming, NE. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the El Rancho de Las Goladrinas Foundation located at 334 Las Pinos Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505.