Thelma Mothershed-Wair

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Thelma Mothershed-Wair with Rep. Vic Snyder.

Thelma Mothershed-Wair (born November 29, 1940) is a member of the Little Rock Nine.

Wair was born in Bloomburg, Texas and is the daughter of Arlevia and Hosanna Claire Mothershed of Little Rock, Arkansas. She attended Dunbar Junior High and Horace Mann High schools, and despite daily torment from white students at Little Rock Central High School, she completed her junior year at the formerly all-white high school during the tumultuous 1957–58 year. Because the city’s high schools were closed the following year, in order to earn the necessary credits for graduation she took correspondence courses and attended summer school in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her diploma from Central High School by mail. Wair graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1964 and earned her master's degree in Guidance and Counseling and an Administrative Certificate in Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1970 and 1985, respectively. Wair taught home economics in the East St. Louis School System for 28 years before retiring in 1994. She has been known as the leader of the Little Rock Nine.

Since then she has worked at the St. Clair County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center in St. Clair County, Illinois, and as an Instructor of Survival Skills for Women at the American Red Cross Second Chance Shelter for the Homeless. During the 1989–90 school year she was honored as an Outstanding Role Model by the East St. Louis Chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction and the Early Childhood-Pre Kindergarten staff of District 189. She also received the National Humanitarian Award, the highest award given at the 2005 National Convention of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. held in Chicago. Wair and her late husband have one son. In 2003 she moved back to the Little Rock area.[1]


  1. ^ (Feature story), Arkansas Globecoming  Missing or empty |title= (help).

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