City native honored by ECU
Monday, July 13, 2009
By Marketta Johnson
East Central University in Ada recently recognized former McAlester resident Linda Johnson-Thomas, of Tulsa, for her contribution to the field of social work. Thomas was recognized at the Centennial Awards Recognition luncheon as a distinguished ECU alumnus.
Thomas, a 32-year veteran with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Social Work from ECU’s Director of Social Work, Dr. Carol Bridges. “Being recognized by the faculty and staff of the East Central University Social Work Department is an honor,” Thomas said.
She received her bachelor’s degree in 1977 and was one of the first graduates from ECU’s social welfare program.
James A. West was the head of the Social Welfare Department at ECU during Thomas’ time at the university. He gave her a compliment she will always remember. “He told me I was a ‘natural social worker.’ That was the highest compliment I could receive,” Thomas said.
She earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas.
A 1969 graduate of McAlester High School, Thomas now works as a programs manager I and supervises the Swift Adoption metro area staff in Area III (Oklahoma and Canadian Counties) and Area VI (Tulsa, Washington, Creek and Osage counties).
Thomas is the daughter of the late Ernest E. Johnson, Sr. and Ethel Mae Johnson. Her brother is the late Wendell Johnson. Linda Thomas and her husband Clarence Thomas, a retired firefighter for the city of Tulsa, have one son, Duaine and daughter-in-law, Latrice. Thomas has one granddaughter, Kennedy.
She also has several nieces and nephews whom she and her husband have helped raise over the years.
Thomas believes her early interest in social work can be credited to her mother.
“My mother went out of her way to help others and that’s how it all started,” Thomas said. “I have always wanted to help people and my strong Christian belief led me to the job.”
“Part of living is giving,” Thomas said. “It’s nice to look back on a career and know you’ve made a difference.”