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Daniel Thomas

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Daniel Thomas Obituary
1951 ~ 2014
Daniel Madison Thomas of Ramona, California, passed away in his sleep December 16, 2013 at the age of 62. He was born 26 January 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the first son of Madison H. Thomas MD and Marian Peterson Thomas. He graduated from Olympus High School and then received a BA in English from Colorado College in 1973.
Dan's first love, from a young age, was flying. He received his private pilot license at age 16 and was the youngest pilot in the state of Utah. He discovered skydiving in high school and completed over seven hundred jumps over the next 30 years, including exhibition and multiple person formation jumps. A chute malfunction during his college years left him completely paralyzed for 2 weeks, but Dan recovered and returned to jumping for several more years.
He progressed rapidly from single-engine, to instrument rating, to multiple-engine, to Lear jet and airline transport flying licenses. For a number of years, he was Jack Nicklaus' favorite pilot for his Lear jet travel to golf tournaments. At age 26, Dan joined Continental Airlines flying passenger jets. For 32 years, he loved his work at Continental, including years as a trainer/certifier of fellow pilots. He shared his love of flying with his father, son, and father-in-law, all of whom were private pilots.
Dan considered himself "the luckiest man in the world" when he married Alison Cheney in Denver, Colorado, February 27, 1982. Alison was the love of his life and over the next 31 years, his amazement at his good fortune to be married to Alison grew and grew. Together they raised two wonderful children: Sarah (age 28), a UCLA graduate, now pursuing an advanced degree in school counseling at CU Denver and Taylor (age 26), also a UCLA graduate, now employed with LI-COR Biosciences in Lincoln, Nebraska. An Eagle himself, Dan was proud to have helped Taylor achieve the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts of America.
Dan lived life to the fullest. He loved adventure and travel. He loved music and was a great singer and guitar player. He was a high-octane sport enthusiast: skydiving, skiing, Porsche driving, mountain biking, and more pedestrian tennis, swimming and camping. When not active outdoors, Dan was a voracious reader who loved to engage in discussions with friends and family over favorite books. Dan was just as comfortable talking about aerodynamics and flight maneuvers as he was talking about Shakespeare.
Together, Dan and Alison could do anything. Dan built three custom homes, with the two of them performing almost all the labor. Alison's design and homemaking skills made each residence exceptional. At the time of his death, Dan had nearly completed building a one-person airplane in his home workshop/garage.
He is survived by Alison, Sarah, Taylor, his mother-in-law Marjorie Cheney, his siblings Christina VanRye, Gloria Gilmore Hunt, Matthew A. Thomas, Lisa Thomas Clayton, and his brother- and sister-in-law Steve Cheney and Lisa Tourney. Dan did not hesitate to share his appreciation for the beauty he saw in the world and in others. His close and extended family will sorely miss his devotion, his thoughtfulness, his great sense of humor, his integrity, and his "can-do" approach to life. He is undoubtedly having a blast flying around Heaven with his father and father-in-law and likely has taught the angels a few new aerial maneuvers. We all look forward to seeing him again.
Published in Deseret News on Jan. 26, 2014
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