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Thelma McArthur remembered for adventurous spirit

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | 8:07 p.m. CDT; updated 8:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 30, 2012

COLUMBIA – Thelma Ferol McArthur was a philosopher of life who loved books and nature. Spiritual exploration was important to the longtime Columbia resident.

"It was very important to her to be positive, and she was until the end of her life," her daughter, Kay McArthur, said. "She could laugh more than anyone I know."

Thelma McArthur died Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. She was 96.

Mrs. McArthur was born April 10, 1916, in Cuba City, Wis., to Harley and Addie (Stipp) Houseman. Her father taught chemistry. In 1926, the family drove and camped across the country as they made their way to Oakland, Calif., their new home. 

She married Art McArthur in 1937. Mrs. McArthur met her husband in a college-age youth group at a Presbyterian church. The couple bonded because they wore similarly styled suits on a field trip to an observatory. The couple had two children and celebrated 58 years of marriage before Mr. McArthur died in 1995.

In 1954, Mrs. McArthur's husband was awarded a Ford Foundation Grant for independent study, which granted him leave to study new, nationwide high school classes in dating and marriage.

Mrs. McArthur's curious and adventurous spirit served her well during this time; she and her husband traveled through 39 states in nine months with two kids in an 18-foot trailer.

In 1956, the family moved to Columbia, where Mr. McArthur taught Family Life Development first at Stephens College and later at the University of Missouri Extension Division. Mrs. McArthur worked as a librarian assistant at the Columbia Public Library.

Mrs. McArthur was a lifelong reader who was always good for a book recommendation on a wide variety of subjects. She initiated a book cart service for patients at University Hospital during her time working at the library. The patients welcomed Mrs. McArthur's rounds because she paid special attention to what each person liked to read.

After retiring from the library, Mrs. McArthur worked as a massage therapist at the Massage Center in Columbia.

Mrs. McArthur was also a founding member of the Unitarian Church and an active member in the Lenoir community after she and her husband moved to a home in The Village in 1990.

Mrs. McArthur is survived by her son, Verne McArthur, of Springfield, Mass., her daughter, Kay McArthur, of Albany, Calif., two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

A celebration in honor of Mrs. McArthur's life will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11 in the Arts and Crafts Room at the Lenoir Community Center.

Supervising editor is Jacob Kirn.

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