Thomas turned 81 on Wednesday.
In the 1980’s when I worked at WUWM I regularly covered the Woman to Woman Conference in Milwaukee, usually held at the barn of a convention center across the street from the Milwaukee Auditorium. One year Thomas was the keynote speaker.
After placing my microphone on the podium and plugging it into my recorder I took a spot to the left of the stage, alone on a folding chair. I stuck out like a sore thumb.
I swear there must have been a thousand women in the place to see and hear Thomas. If there was another guy there I sure as heck didn’t see him.
Thomas got up to speak and opened with customary humor. I’ll never forget.
“I’m married to the greatest husband in the Western Hemisphere.”
She, of course, was referring to the most popular daytime TV talk show host of the time, Phil Donahue.
Then came the punchline.
“And he’s nothing to brag about.”
The thousand women stood and screamed in delight.
I sank into my flimsy seat, at the same time knowing I had a certain sound bite.