John was born April 15, 1937, in Fort Ringgold, Texas, to John Wesley Pasco Thomas and Gertie Lee Whittle. He was the oldest of six children. He died Dec. 2, 2022, in Wenatchee, Washington.
John grew up predominantly in Columbia, South Carolina, raised his family in Kenai, Alaska, and Apple Valley, Minnesota, and moved to Mazama, Washington, to live with his son in 2000.
He joined the U.S. Air Force after high school where he served as an air traffic controller in Georgia, Turkey, New York, and Alaska. He met his wife, Emily Ray, in Georgia during his first posting. He was based in Turkey during the Cuban missile crisis and later served in the Vietnam War in Alaska. He left the Air Force in 1968 to work for the FAA in Alaska and Minnesota. Upon retirement, he drove a school bus for 16 years in Apple Valley.
He loved the great outdoors and taught his son to hunt, fish, ski and boat. In Alaska he raised and loved huskies, a passion he passed down to his son. Later in life he discovered golf and was a regular at Bear Creek Golf Club in Winthrop. He was an avid reader and frequent visitor to the Winthrop library with a passion for spy thrillers and non-fiction history. Until the pandemic, he could be found at the Mazama Store counter eating his weekly lunch sharing his knack for puns and wordplay.
John was preceded in death by his ex-wife Emily and survived by his son Ray, their huskies Tishka and Vesper, and his siblings in the South.
A celebration of John’s life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Mazama Community Club, all are welcome.