Sadly, Helen Thomas passed way July 20, 2013, but she left in her wake, a legacy that all women (and men) can appreciate and admire.
Helen Thomas, a Senior White House Correspondent, sat in the front row of the press briefing room for ten presidents of the United States. From President Kennedy to President Obama (who shares a birthday day Helen – August 4), Helen was a constant in the White House, the Oval Office and even on Air Force One; asking the tough questions on behalf of the American people.
Starting as a staff reporter on her high school newspaper Helen Thomas had a love of journalism and a need to know the answers. After graduating from college, she moved from Detroit to Washington D.C. to be in the middle of news of our country. She started as a “go-fer” but gradually worked her way up until her big break as the reporter covering the campaign of President John Kennedy in 1960.
She knew what she wanted and she set a course to achieve her goals. President Johnson learned that his daughter was engaged – not from his daughter – but from an article written by Helen Thomas. She was there when news happened and even before – asking confrontational questions to get to the answers the American public deserved to know.
Helen Thomas broke countless barriers for women in news and government:
Ms. Thomas was also the first woman to be elected an officer of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the first to serve as its president. In 1975, she became the first woman elected to the Gridiron Club, which for 90 years had been a men-only bastion of Washington journalists. See the full article.
One of the things that is inspiring is the fact that she didn’t apologize for being direct. In a predominately male profession, she was driven to get the facts and deliver the news.
In an interview with The New York Times in May 2006, Ms. Thomas was characteristically uncompromising and unapologetic.
“How would you define the difference between a probing question and a rude one?” she was asked.
“I don’t think there are any rude questions,” she said.
Helen Thomas will be missed, but her courage and focus continue to be an inspiration. She was truly a Purposeful Woman on a Mission and she achieved great success!