Anne Moreau Thomas, the first woman to serve as president of the New Jersey Press Association, died on September 11. She was 92.
Thomas’ family owned the Hunterdon County Democrat, once an exceptional daily newspaper that was founded in 1825, from 1922 until they sold it to Advance Publications in 2001. Advance eventually folded the newspaper in to the Star-Ledger and no longer has any local news reporters based in Hunterdon.
Her father, D. Howard Moreau, served as publisher until his death in 1963. H. Seely Thomas, her husband and a Flemington-Raritan school board member from 1959 to 1968, took over as publisher until his death of abdominal cancer in 1994. Thomas’ daughter, Catherine Thomas Langley, was the publisher from 1994 until the newspaper was sold seven years later. Her son-in-law, Jay Langley, was the newspaper’s editor until 2008 and her son, John Martin Thomas, worked on the operations side until 2009.
Thomas served as the newspaper’s food editor and wrote a weekly column called “A Word to the Wives” from 1954 until her retirement in 1999. She has worked at the newspaper at the Hunterdon County Democrat as a teenager, writing obituaries and covering social events.
“In those early years, the primary responsibilities and concerns of most women were everyday cooking and baking, housekeeping and laundry, sewing and child care,” Thomas wrote in her retirement announcement. “Readers of the column were interested in nutrition, money-saving ideas, home decoration, new products and entertaining. Their primary focus was on the home, rather than on careers, leisure time activities, creative interests, so-called gourmet cooking, and all the varied and more sophisticated things with which they are involved today.”
Gov. Jim Florio nominated Thomas to serve on the Rutgers University Board of Governors in 1990. She became the first woman to serve as Rutgers board president in 1995, a post her husband’s grandfather, John Martin Thomas, held from 1925 to 1930.
The New Jersey Press Association reported Thomas’ brief connection to the Lindbergh kidnapping.
“In March of 1932, little Anne was just the right age and had just the right curly hair that police stopped her family car and made her mother prove that this child was not the kidnapped Lindbergh baby – by pulling down Anne’s diaper to show that she was a girl,” the NJPA wrote.
Thomas is survived by her three children, six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
A memorial service is set for September 22 at 2 PM at the Flemington Presbyterian Church.