Mary Jo Thomas Green
1934 - 2019
Mary Jo Thomas Green was born April 18, 1934, to John Thomas and Julia Elizabeth Kennedy-Thomas. She was the eighth child of hard-working parents. The family lived on her mother’s allotment four miles east of Fitzhugh, Oklahoma.
Ms. Green attended Fitzhugh High School and East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. On Nov. 17, 1951, she married J.L. Green. The couple had two children, Jess Green and Melissa Green-Wilkerson, followed by three grandchildren.
On March 14, 1977, Ms. Green began her career of service with the Chickasaw Nation. In her first position, she assisted Chickasaw citizens seeking employment through a federal program called the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. Ms. Green was subsequently appointed Chickasaw Nation Personnel Director by Governor Overton James, where she continued to assist Chickasaw citizens with employment opportunities.
In 1980, Ms. Green was instrumental in developing the first Chickasaw Senior Citizen’s Nutrition Program and served as the site manager. Her work with elders was recognized in 1986 when she was awarded the Outstanding Employee in the State of Aging Network, and again in 1993 when she was awarded Professional of the Year in the Field of Aging.
During her time working with elders, Ms. Green also recognized the need for Chickasaw citizens to be better educated on health care issues and have readily-available access to health care information and resources. For her efforts, she was honored with the Indian Health Service Director’s Award in 1994. A year later, she received the Betsy D. Smith Award during the Oklahoma Minority Outreach Information and Referral Conference for her work as the Chickasaw Nation Senior Citizen Program Coordinator.
After more than 21 years as a Chickasaw Nation employee, Ms. Green was elected as a Chickasaw Tribal Legislator in 1998, filling Seat 5 in the Pontotoc District. She ultimately served six consecutive terms in the legislature. During this time, she was a member of the Human Resources, Education, and Tribal Historical and Cultural Preservation legislative committees. She was a longtime advocate of elders programs, education and quality health care for Chickasaw citizens. Ms. Green served as the chairperson for the Chickasaw Legislature’s Health Care Committee during the planning, financing and construction of the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center.
Ms. Green’s career of service was recognized with the Ada Business and Professional Woman’s Club “Woman of the Year” in 2012, the Chickasaw Foundation’s “Patron of the Year,” the AARP Oklahoma Outstanding Indian Elder Award and the Trailblazer Award. After dedicating more than 39 years of service to the Chickasaw Nation and the Chickasaw people, Ms. Green retired in 2016.