Prominent Bellevue man and former civic leader passes away
December 10, 2010 · Updated 9:15 AM
Thornton "Tommy" Thomas of Medina, retired Bellevue insurance broker and civic leader in Bellevue and Medina for many years, passed away Wednesday, Dec. 1 surrounded by loved ones and family.
Thomas moved to Medina in 1950, when the area was still part of King County, and was instrumental in the incorporation of the City of Medina in l955. He served on the Medina City Council from 1958 to 1970, and as mayor from 1964 to 1968. Other civic activities included Municipal League of Seattle and King County, Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle councilman and Forward Thrust transit committee.
While mayor of Medina, Thomas was approached by Arthur A. Vall-Spinosa, Rector of St. Thomas Church, who had said, "We should do something about that boggy area" across from the church. Thomas appointed Father Vall as head of the first Medina Park Board. Together, they worked for passage of park bonds which culminated in the purchase and development of Medina Park and Fairweather Nature Park. He helped secure sidewalks, not popular in the l950s, along Medina streets.
An avid small boat sailor, Thomas inaugurated the Medina Parks summer sailing program for young people, and served as skipper of the Sea Scout ship Argo.
He was a founding member of the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy and served as chapter chair from l963 to l968. He later was active with The Trust for Public Lands.
Thomas was owner and broker of the Evergreen Insurance Agency, located in the familiar log cabin on Main Street at 105th Avenue N.E., and was a trustee of the King County Insurance Association.
He attended Pomona College before serving in the Merchant Marine in World War II, as quartermaster on a tanker serving Pacific Coast ports from San Pedro, Calif. to Vancouver, British Columbia. This service ended abruptly one day when the crew was ordered off the tanker in San Pedro and was replaced by a Soviet crew, taking over the ship under lend-lease. He then enlisted in the Army Transportation Corp, serving at Fort Lawton.
Thomas was born in Berkeley, California in l920. The family moved to Phoenix, where he spent his school years. He is survived by Claire, his wife of 60 years; sons Craig of Kailua, Hawaii, and Burke of Eastsound; daughters Elaine Thomas of Bremerton, Irene Wood of Fairbanks, and Anne Thomas of Ban Lung, Cambodia and Medina; a niece, Joan Thomas of Los Angeles, and nine grandchildren.