Helen Bruce Thomas, a retired nurse and homemaker, died April 23 at the Rogerson House assisted-living facility in Boston of unknown causes. The longtime resident of Phoenix, Baltimore County, was 89.
Born Helen Whitridge Bruce in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Albert Cabell Bruce, a businessman, and Helen Whitridge Bruce, a homemaker. She was raised in Guilford on Charlcote Road. She attended the Calvert and Bryn Mawr schools before graduating from the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., where she rode horses.
Family members said she traveled with her parents in the 1930s to Germany and Russia, where her father sold commercial clothes-pressing machines. She also spent several months in Paris as a teen and lived with a French family, where she learned to speak French.
She earned a bachelor's degree at Vassar College and also studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She earned a master's degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 1949 and worked briefly at Hopkins Hospital.
In 1951, she married Robert "Bobby" Mason Thomas Sr., a Venable attorney who was a Baltimore Museum of Art board chairman.
She lived for many years at a family home, Blythenia, on Merryman Mill Road in Phoenix.
She was a past president of the Mount Vernon Club and did volunteer work at the National Cathedral in Washington.
"She was elegant and polite in her demeanor, but very fun-loving and game for adventure, and went power sailing in Florida when she was 84," said her son, Robert M. Thomas Jr. of Boston. "She loved to have a good time, and if there was an adventure to be had, she was the first to sign up. She was unfailingly nonjudgmental and was a safe harbor in the family. She was unfailingly kind."
He said she enjoyed riding around Boston after he bought a pedicab to take her outdoors.
Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. June 3 at Sherwood Episcopal Church, 5 Sherwood Road in Cockeysville, where she had been a member.
In addition to her son, survivors include two daughters, Helen W. Thomas of Aberdeen, N.C., and Elizabeth T. Maza of Washington Crossing, Pa.; and six grandchildren. Her husband of 56 years died in 2007.