Donald Harry Thomas, age 81, passed away on June 3, 2021, following a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia with Parkinsonian symptoms. While he was a resident of Alaska since 1965, he lived the past two years in Whitefield, N.H. where he was able to get excellent skilled nursing care at The Morrison. The activities staff kept him singing his favorite country music and dancing from his wheelchair.
Donald was born on March 15, 1940, in Lunenburg, Vermont, the second of four sons of Edson S. Thomas and Ruth E. Thomas of Gilman.
Donald graduated from Concord High School, where basketball was a favorite sport. During high school and following graduation, he continued employment at Gilman Paper Co, working on the Town Site and the Gilman Farm.
In 1963, he married Natalie A. MacDonald at the East Concord Methodist Church. As soon as Natalie graduated from the University of Maine Machias, they packed, rented their 4-bedroom home and moved to Nenana, Alaska in 1965 where Natalie had a teaching position.
In Alaska, work came looking for Don. He immediately began constructing housing for the growing population in Nenana. It wasn’t long before construction started on the Nenana Bridge. GHEMM Construction Company, Inc. hired him which started a long career with Operating Engineer’s Local #302 Union. He began constructing bridges, and buildings throughout Alaska until his retirement in 1995 at age 55. He could operate any piece of equipment needed. Work took him to many villages, a great way to see the huge state of Alaska.
Each year, Don enjoyed moose hunting trips on the Nowitna River; dipnetting for Sockeye Salmon on the Copper River; and many years of motorhome camping and pulling water skiers on Birch Lake. Other camping trips were to square dance festivals across Alaska for over twenty-five years. Hunting, fishing, boating and square dancing, as well as his huge garden that grew in size each year continued. He enjoyed picking wild cranberries and blueberries. The freezers were always full. Don was a member of the Mason’s in Concord, Vt. for 63 years. Of course, all of these activities required a fleet of boats, motorhomes, snowmachines, side-by-sides, tractors, harrows, and the list goes on and on.
In the early days of retirement, the whole family registered and walked in many fundraiser 5K and 10K races. He enjoyed making jewelry and other items from diamond willow and antlers. People would often start a bidding war over his unique Alaskan pieces at fundraiser auctions. Boy Scouts, soccer, hockey, swim meets, and all activities involving the grandchildren kept him busy.
While most of his traveling was by small planes throughout Alaska, Small ship vacations were enjoyed on the Bering Sea to Russia, and three cruises up through the Alaskan Panhandle on different vessels: the Alaska State Ferry, the U.S.S. Explorer, and West Tours. Another vacation was to Switzerland followed by a 14-day Mediterranean Cruise; and a 3-week trip to Croatia to visit our foreign exchange student’s family. Don also made many trips to Vermont to visit family, and to Oregon to help his brother-in-law.
Donald was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Charles and Sybil (Potter) Streeter; paternal grandparents, Harry P. Thomas and Lorna E. Webb; parents, Ruth E. Thomas and Edson S. Thomas; his brothers, David E. Thomas and Bruce C. Thomas of Lunenburg; Brother-in-law George F. MacDonald; and son, Jeffery O. Thomas of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Don is survived by his stepmother, Lorraine Thomas of Lyndonville; sister, Lorna (“Boot”)Boutin, of Gladstone, Missouri; his spouse of 57 years, Natalie A. (MacDonald) Thomas of Whitefield and Fairbanks, Alaksa; brother Edson (Deborah) Thomas, Jr. of Lunenburg and sister-in-law Diane Thomas of Lunenburg; his brother-in-law, John M. MacDonald and Ferne Loomis of Victory; sister-in-law, Mary Jo MacDonald (Glen) Hale, Jr.; his children, Andrew B. Thomas of North Pole, Alaska; Allison M. (John) Carter; and grandchildren, Bailey, Kylee, Preston Carter all of Fairbanks; and Schuyler Thomas of Fairbanks. And numerous other nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Arrangements have been made by Bailey Funeral Home. There are no burial plans at this time. Contributions may be sent in Don’s memory to The Morrison Skilled Nursing Home, 6 Terrace St., Whitefield, NH 03598; or to the American Brain Foundation/lbd.com. Condolences may be sent to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Natalie Thomas, 56 Summit Dr. Apt.217, Whitefield, NH 03598.
For more information or to send an online condolence please go to www.baileyfh.net.