October 26, 1924 – July 15, 2020
Don passed away peacefully at the age of 95, at the George Derby Centre in Burnaby, where he had been living in care for the past four years. Don leaves his wife of 73 years, Eleanor Thomas (nee Schreyer). Don and Eleanor lived in Langley for 37 years, from 1973 until 2016, with a six-year interlude in the early 1980’s spent in Salmon Arm in the north Okanagan. Over the years they lived in Langley City, Langley Meadows, and finally Murrayville.
Don worked selling International Harvester farm machinery at Central Farm Equipment on the Langley Bypass. He also sold cars at Valley Datsun on Fraser Highway.
Don was born in Saskatchewan, the younger of two sons born to Charlie Thomas and Laura Thomas. (nee Boxall) He moved to Winnipeg with his family when his father enlisted for action in the Second World War. Don served in the Royal Canadian Navy aboard the HMCS Uganda during the war, returning to Winnipeg where he met Eleanor. The two were married in 1947.
As a teenager, during the depression, Don worked on the railroad on the prairies and in mines in Northern Ontario. After the war, he owned a trucking company, worked at a distillery in New Westminster, built and operated a motel on the King George Highway, and farmed in Saskatchewan for 22 years.
Don was a licensed auctioneer. He travelled countless miles working farm auctions across the prairies. In Saskatchewan, Don was active in the Elks Lodge. He and a fellow Elk once walked 40 kilometres to raise money to replace the roof of the town’s skating rink when its roof collapsed after a heavy snowfall.
Don was an active, outgoing man who loved to hear or tell a good story. He enjoyed talking to strangers and he loved to travel.
He loved hockey, coaching and playing the game as a young man. He was an avid Canucks fan. He also enjoyed football and baseball, especially at playoff time. Don and Eleanor also loved to travel. They vacationed in Europe, Australia, and Hawaii as well as the western United States, and they drove their camper across Canada and back.
Don was devoted to his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchild. He leaves four children, Sharon Thomas of Victoria, BC, Karen Thomas (Chuck Gauthier) of Banff, AB, Grant Thomas (Debbie Thomas), of Vancouver, BC and Gregory Thomas (Sandra Witt), of Victoria, BC.
They have seven grandchildren, Jaylee Thomas Nickel (Dallas Nickel) of Vancouver, BC, Rob Thomas (Sarah Midgley) of Seattle, WA, Kate Gauthier of Brooklyn, NY, Stephen Thomas of Sarasota, FL, Jessica Thomas Cooke (Michael Cooke) of Vancouver, BC, and Peyton Thomas and Peter Thomas of Toronto, ON.
They have one great-grandchild, Parker Cooke, of Vancouver, BC.
Don was predeceased by his parents, his brother Jack, and his son-in-law Bob Sheppard.
Don counted a legion of friends. We will miss him forever.
A celebration of life for Don will take place in BC after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted. Don’s family wishes to thank the all the staff of the Special Care Unit at the George Derby Centre for their kind and careful attention to his needs. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made in Don’s memory to the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children.Obituary
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