UST Remembers Professor Elsa Zambosco-Thomas
University of St. Thomas Professor Elsa Zambosco-Thomas passed away Wednesday, April 1, after a long battle with leukemia.
A prayer service in her memory was held 6 p.m. Friday, April 3 in the Chapel of St. Basil with Rev. Jack Hanna, CSB, as the celebrant. A funeral Mass of the Resurrection was held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 4 in the Chapel of St. Basil. A Memorial Mass will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 1 in the Chapel of St. Basil. Rev. Ted Baenziger, CSB, will serve as the celebrant.
A member of the UST faculty from 1968 to 2008, Zambosco-Thomas taught Spanish, Spanish and Latin American literature, creative writing, Hispanic theater, Hispanic cinema and served as the director of the Women, Culture and Society Program. She also taught at also at Rice University, the University of Notre Dame for the Peace Corps Program in Southbend, Indiana, and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
She is credited with creating the first UST Study Abroad Program in Argentina in 1970 and 1971, continuing her dedication with 31 years of teaching in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico and four more programs in Argentina. Zambosco also founded Mundos, a Hispanic Literary Magazine for the UST community.
Born in La Plata, Argentina, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from Universidad de La Plata, a Master of Arts in Spanish from Monterey Institute of International Studies and pursued graduate studies in Spanish and French at Middlebury College in Vermont. She studied theater in the Teatro Argentino de La Plata and at Middlebury College.
Zambosco-Thomas was involved with Spanish theater in Houston since 1968, acting, directing and producing more than 70 plays. In 1971, she founded the Hispanic Theatre Workshop and produced numerous plays at UST, University of Houston and Rice. She traveled extensively to participate in theater festivals throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe.
Her acting credits include: Yerma, El amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín, Retablo de muerte, La nona, El gran teatro del mundo, El mancebo y la mujer brava, and many more. As an artistic director of Escenario Hispano de Houston, she directed Mateo and was seen as La madre in the production of Sexo, mentiras y dinero.
Zambosco-Thomas’ two daughters were also active on the UST campus – Vanessa Thomas, who graduated from UST in 2002, and Liza Urrutibeheity, who worked as a job placement counselor from 1994 to 2000.
“I am very saddened to learn today of Elsa’s death,” said Ramon Fernandez, assistant professor of accounting. “She was my teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend. She was an outstanding teacher who truly challenged her students. Following in her footsteps, I became an educator and always looked up to her as the model of what an educator should be – driving students to excel with a caring and positive attitude. We cannot forget that Elsa pioneered Study Abroad with the Merida Program, expanding student learning of Spanish beyond the four walls of the classroom. With Fr. Jack Hanna, CSB, she made that program the success it continues to enjoy to this day.
“In short, Elsa gave her whole heart and soul to UST,” Fernandez said. “When we talk about the personalized approach to education at UST, no one exemplified that more than Elsa. She truly believed in the mission of this university and she embodied that mission in her daily work and life. We will miss her so much.”
Dr. Elizabeth Coscio, associate professor and chair of the Modern and Classical Languages Department (MACL), remembered her colleague fondly.
"Professor Elsa Zambosco-Thomas lived life to its fullest in the moment.," Coscio said. "The MACL and Spanish Department will miss her take on Hispanic drama, creative writing and cinema. She was always ready with a smile, a laugh, a hug or a plan to improve. She faced off to the last year of suffering in no cowardly way. Goodbye dear friend and colleague."