Board & Staff
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Mary Pat grew up in a large family of four brothers and two sisters. After college, where she received a degree in Political Science, she married the love of her life, Joel Thuma. Joel was a freshly minted graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and they began their journey for assignments in Texas, Florida, Michigan, New York, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina and back to Alaska. Upon Joel’s retirement from the Coast Guard, the family that now included their daughter Emily, son Alan, and golden retriever Duchess, moved to Bellingham in 1990. Joel spent the next 23 years as an Alaska Airlines pilot. Mary Pat completed an accounting degree at WWU and was a practicing CPA until her retirement.
Listening to classical music was a part of her life since childhood. From 1993 to 2000, Mary Pat’s involvement with the Festival was as an audience member. Since then, over the years they have home-hosted Maestro Palmer and other musicians. In 2005 Mary Pat co-chaired the annual gala auction fundraiser, and after that took a position on the Board of Directors. Since joining the board she has served most years as treasurer and one two-year term as Chair. Using her training as a CPA she has led the organization in becoming fiscally sound and responsible in all of its spending practices.
The many, many friends that have been made along the way have been a wonderful reward for the hours spent volunteering for the Festival of Music. The concerts, the musicians, and the friendships have enriched their lives. When not working on a Festival committee, Mary Pat can be found playing mahjong with friends, enjoying a round of golf, or traveling the world. She & Joel have been lucky enough to explore all seven continents and continue their journeys to new ports of call.