Mary Thomas Prappas
Mary Thomas Prappas was raised in the Cedar Rapids community by her parents Mike and Helen Thomas. While her parents had little formal education or financial means, they encouraged Mary to get a college education, in an era when not many women did so. She was the first in her family to earn a degree, graduating from the University of Iowa in 1949 with a business degree. She was one of 35 women who earned a business degree that year.
An active member of the Greek community, she met her future husband while at a convention of Greek Orthodox students in 1948. They married in 1953 and established themselves in Houston, Texas, where Dempsey practiced law and where they raised their son, James, who is also a prominent Houston attorney. Dempsey had his own law firm from 1964 to 1989. The Prappases settled in Iowa City in their later years where they enjoyed the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids community. With Dempsey's passing in April 2015, Mary lost a lifetime partner and the university an avid champion of ethical legal and business practice. Mary Prappas now lives in Houston.
The Prappases support two faculty chairs in their estate plans. The Mary Thomas Prappas Chair in Business Ethics will be in the UI Tippie College of Business and is the first chair named solely for a woman. When discussing her chair, Mary stated, "It is important that students develop a conscience in business. They need to be aware of ethics and of the consequences of unethical behavior on others' lives."