Gene William Thomas, 75, of Idaho Falls, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, at the home of his daughter, Krista Stafford, and her husband, Jeromy, where he resided with them for the past two years. Although he has been "freed" from the shackles that were his illnesses and is no longer suffering this world, he will be dearly missed by those who loved him, his family and close friends and very much by his best friend, his cat, "Thomas." During the last few weeks, he was under the care of Creekside Home Health & Hospice. His care team, Betsy, Heidi, Cheri and Gary, all provided him with great care and comfort. We thank them for their wonderful, caring services. For the past two years, Cheri Monroe, who was his V.A. weekly caretaker, became a cherished friend to Gene and she took wonderful care of him. Words cannot express how much she is appreciated. He truly considered her a part of his family.
Gene was born in Pendleton, Ore., on March 26, 1937. He was married to Donna Sue Thomas (Burgener), and they had four children. He voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. He loved his time in Germany, and he traveled throughout Europe with his wife and newborn daughter, Brenda. When he returned to the U.S., he lived in Phoenix, Ariz., and worked with his father-in-law at Burgener Electric while his wife went to school at Arizona State University. Upon her graduation from college, they moved to Iona, Idaho, where Gene worked at Hayes Farms while Donna worked at Riverview and Parkview Hospitals. Gene went to school at Vo-tech and graduated in welding and mechanics. With his new degree, Gene got a job as a mechanic at Snake River Equipment. Gene eventually moved on to H & K Construction, where he worked as a field mechanic for eight years. After H & K, he went to work for John Kelley at K & G Contractors and Gravel Pit. He worked there for over 20 years, until he retired. He built and constructed much of the gravel yards' operations equipment and maintaining it and the two 988 Cat front-end loaders, which Gene referred to as "Ralph" & "Tilly." Throughout the years, Gene worked other various jobs as a welder and mechanic, including the construction of the Iona grain elevators/silos. Gene was a very talented mechanic and welder and could fabricate anything his mind could create. Everyone said he should have been an engineer and inventor. He was surprisingly very good at landscaping and design. Throughout the years, he built numerous inventions, including a full-size boat, a hydraulic dump bed for his Ford truck, a hydraulic hoist arm on another truck, numerous remote controlled airplanes, model tanks, and custom snowmobile gas tanks. In the late 1960s, he used his custom extra-capacity gas tanks that he fabricated to help him and his five-man team win the 101 snowmobile race from Ashton to West Yellowstone that had over 500 competitors and 10,000 spectators -- a very coveted race to have won! Throughout his life, he loved his animal companions: horses, cats and dogs, which included his constant companion and best friend for the last 10 years, his cat "Thomas," who is very lost without Gene's gruff voice of affections. Also among his cherished deceased pets of recent years were his three-legged amputee dog, "Dog," his partially blind cat "Kit," his black Lab mix "B.B," and dachshund mix "Shorty," and his horse "Blu." All of his animals were once abandoned strays, thrown away by society, but Gene acknowledged their value as devoted friends. He also greatly enjoyed the antics of his daughter's many rescued foster cats. Gene also loved the Fourth of July, and he put on many extravagant firework shows for his family and city of Iona (a trait he passed down to his son, Kerry).
He is survived by his four children, Brenda Shaw and her three children, Mason, Mckenzie and Lucas; Floyd (Brandi) Thomas and his two children, Ashley and Sonja; Kerry (Becky) Thomas and their four children, Gage, Lacie, Colter and Shelby; and Krista (Jeromy) Stafford and her "furry children" (multiple rescue cats) and animals.
He very much loved all of his children and was very proud of the accomplishments of all of his sons and daughters. He often boasted of his grandchildren and their abilities. His great friend for the past 20 years was Dell Ray Priest. He also truly respected, loved, appreciated and was thankful for Kelly Shaw and all he did for his children.
A celebration of his life will be held at the Ritz Hotel in the Monarch Room, 720 Lindsay Blvd., Idaho Falls, on Saturday, Dec. 29, where the family will meet with friends from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Military Honors with a 21-gun salute will be held at 5 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation in his name to the Humane Society of the Upper Valley; please mail donations to Krista Stafford (c/o H.S.U.V.), 2920 N. 45th E., Idaho Falls, Id., 83401.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www .coltrinmortuary.com.