J.W. "Mike" Thomas
Mike Thomas, our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, died Monday, April 25, 2011. While family and friends mourn his death, we also celebrate his life.
Mike Thomas was born in Urbana, Mont., in 1919, the youngest of three brothers. When he was only 6 months old, he moved with his family to the Prescott area that became his lifelong home.
Like so many in his generation, Mike volunteered to serve in the military after the outbreak of World War II. He joined the Naval Reserve in 1941, and was eventually stationed for four years at Pearl Harbor as an airplane mechanic. Mike showed a natural talent for his work and was recognized as one of the ablest mechanics in his unit. At the war's end, Mike returned home to Prescott, where he met his future wife, Jean. They married Aug. 12, 1947, and began a life together that lasted for 64 years. From humble beginnings, Mike built a successful farming operation in the Sky Rocket Hills. A natural engineer, Mike earned several patents for farming equipment innovation including one for a leveling device that allows combines to harvest steep hillsides. He also became an early proponent of no-till farming, building many of his own no-till drills and winning "Conservation Farmer of the Year."
Mike also served as a committed member of the Central Christian Church. He held numerous financial leadership roles over the last 40 years and worked tirelessly to secure the funds needed to support the church's outreach programs.
Outside of farming and his leadership roles at the church, one of Mike's favorite activities was following the stock market. As a successful self taught-investor, he knew it was nearly impossible to consistently beat the market, but he always enjoyed trying.
Mike was a quiet role model to family and many others who knew and worked with him. He helped many people throughout his life who were in need and never sought recognition for his good deeds.
In addition to his wife, Jean Thomas, Mike is survived by his four children, Mary Sandberg and her husband, Dave, Linda Thomas, Jan Nelsen and her husband, Carl, and Michael Thomas, as well as three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A service celebrating Mike Thomas's life will be held on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m. at the Central Christian Church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Mike's name to the Christian Aid Center, the Helpline, or another chosen charity through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder St., Walla Walla, WA 99362.