Ella Cooper Thomas 2006
Ella Cooper Thomas, 91, a retired law reporter and editor with the U.S. Tax Court, died
Aug. 23 of congestive heart failure at the Windsor Oaks assisted living facility in
A former Potomac resident, she had lived in Florida since 1975.
Mrs. Thomas was born in Fort Totten, Long Island, N.Y., and graduated from Western
High School in the District in 1932. She attended Vassar College and the University of
Hawaii and then received her undergraduate degree from George Washington
University in 1937. She received her law degree from GWU in 1940.
In 1941-42, she was the secret maps custodian for U.S. District Engineers in Honolulu,
responsible for protecting maps and properly destroying them if the Japanese invaded
Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
When she moved back to the District, she was a contributing associate editor of Labor
Relations Reporter for less than a year and then become an associate attorney with
Smith, Ristig and Smith, a tax law firm. In 1947, she became a librarian at GWU's
In 1953, she joined the U.S. Tax Court as an attorney editor and assistant reporter. She
was promoted the next year to reporter of decisions, a position she held until her
retirement in 1975. Her tenure as reporter of decisions, a position that put her in charge
of publications about the court's rulings, remains the longest anyone has held that position
at the court.
Mrs. Thomas was a member of various professional organizations as well as Daughters
of the American Revolution, Army and Navy Chapter; the Vassar Alumni Club; and the
Capitol Hill Club.
Mrs. Thomas's husband, Robert E. Lee Thomas Sr., died in 1985.
Survivors include a son, Robert E.L. Thomas Jr. of the District; a sister, Caroline C. Wills
of Melbourne, Fla.; two brothers, Kenneth Cooper, also of Melbourne, and Richmond
Cooper of Alexandria; and two grandchildren.