Gloria Thomas, a longtime member of the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, passed away on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, surrounded by loved ones.
Ms. Gloria has been a member of the coalition for decades and dedicated her life to service and justice for families in the Bronx and beyond. A powerful leader of the coalition’s housing justice committee, she organized for tenant protections across the Bronx, city, and state.
In a message distributed by Sandra Lobo, the coalition’s executive director, she wrote: “We mourn her loss and are in deep gratitude for her fierce, loving, and generous life.”
Ms. Gloria was a member of the Black Panther Party, and later served on the 52nd Precinct Council and led the AquaUni190 Neighborhood Association that advocates for tenants along Aqueduct Avenue, University Avenue, and 190th Street. As a leader of her building’s tenants association, she became active in the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.
In 2011, she and fellow tenants of the Milbank Private Equity Portfolio mounted a successful campaign to move their buildings out of foreclosure and negotiate a new agreement with landlord Steven Finkelstein. Their organizing led the city to establish the Proactive Preservation Initiative to address deteriorating conditions in multifamily buildings before they endanger the health, safety, and wellbeing of residents and the surrounding neighborhood.
In 2018, Ms. Gloria became an amputee due to a faulty knee replacement and infection, but she did not let that stop her dedication to supporting families and community.
Born and raised in Harlem alongside six siblings, Ms. Gloria moved to the Bronx in 1963, where she remained for the rest of her life. She studied nursing at Bronx Community College and worked as a nurse for 12 years at Lincoln Hospital. She also worked with the Department of Social Services in the Bronx, helping families access public assistance and food stamps.
Ms. Gloria loved crafting and sewing and taught African dance through the Parks Department in the summer for many years. She retired at the young age of 63.
Ms. Gloria was the matriarch of five generations — a mother of five, grandmother of 11, great grandmother of 13 and great-great grandmother of three.
Many in the community called her “Grandma” for her kind and generous spirit and “Diva” for her colorful personality, outfits, and long nails.
There will be a final resting viewing at 10 a.m. Oct. 19 at Granby’s Funder Service Inc., 4021 White Plains Road.