Lelia Scott Thomas, 90, who retired in 1958 as director of the D.C. Recreation Department's New York Avenue playground, died Sept. 20 at the Wisconsin Avenue Nursing Home where she had been recuperating from a hip fracture. She also suffered from a hernia.
Mrs. Thomas, who began as a volunteer with the old D.C. Recreation Board in 1935, was one of the first blacks to direct a playground facility after the city's playgrounds were desegregated in May 1953.
She also was a cofounder of the first Brownie troop for blacks here in 1932 and her daughter, Jayne, was the first Brownie to be sworn in after the troop was formed.
Mrs. Thomas was actively involved with the Girl Scouts as a consultant and was a leader in the sale of Girl Scout cookies until a hip injury forced her retirement at age 88.
Among her many scouting honors was her selection, in 1976, as one of 51 women from the 50 states and the District of Columbia to be "Hidden Heroines." In recognition of "exemplary service for the Girl Scouts of America." This special award was part of a presentation made by the Girl Scouts of America to Queen Elizabeth II of England on her most recent visit to the United States.
She also was honored earlier this year by local Scouts for her contributions to "Scouting for black girls in the District of Columbia."
Mrs. Thomas was born in Orange, Va., in the home in which her family had lived for over 100 years. She was trained as a teacher in Petersburg, Va., and was principal of the Orange County public schools before her marriage to the late Charles Murdaugh Thomas. Prof. Thomas was a well-known educator and civic leader here and had servied on the D.C. Tax Commission for a number of years. He died in 1946.
Mrs. Thomas also was active in civic affairs and had served as treasurer of the Burrville Women's Club. She was a member of the National Council of Negro Women. She also was a founder of the Emanuel Baptist Church in Orange.
Survivors include a son, Charles M. Jr. of the home in Washington: a daughter, Jayne T. Richof Montclair, N.J., a brother, Horace Scott of Orange: a stepson, Francis Thomas of New York City: two grandchildren and one stepgrandchild.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of countributions to the Lelia Scott Thomas Scholarship Fund, Emanuel Baptist Church, Orange, Va.