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Fairbanks, AK 99701
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Rachel   A. Thomas

1928 - 2019
Rachel   A. Thomas Obituary
Rachel A. Thomas, 91, former educator and homemaker, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Fairbanks, at 91.
Rachel was the third child born to Ernest and Henrietta Weinberg in the Hardin, Montana, hospital. Her family lived on a ranch-homestead in the Sarpy area, about 30 miles from town. Their log house had kerosene lamps and outhouse but no running water or telephone. She rode a horse with her older siblings to attend first grade in a one-room school. Because the oldest would enter high school the next year, the family moved to Hardin where the family grew to four. This house had electricity but no indoor plumbing.
While attending high school, Rachel worked for Ben Franklin (5- and 10-cent store). After graduating from high school, she worked locally for two years as a stenographer for Holly Sugar Corporation to earn and save sufficient money to attend Montana State University in Bozeman. During summers, she worked for Fish and Wildlife Service in Yellowstone National Park and Glacier Transport Company (red buses) in Glacier National Park. When her older brother was discharged from the Navy at the close of World War II, the two were able to attend the university together. Don and Rachel graduated in 1951. She received a Master of Education from the University of Alaska in 1961.
She taught in Elmira, New York; at Billings Business College; and Powell County High School, Deer Lodge, Montana. She and three teachers, including her sister, Dorothy, spent the summer of 1954 camping and driving up the Alaska Highway to the Territory of Alaska. That fall, she began her Alaska teaching career, teaching shorthand, typing, English and physical education in Kenai.
In 1955, Rachel married Donald D. Thomas from upstate New York, serving in Army security and stationed at Wildwood Station, Kenai. While Don worked construction, as a technician for White Alice (communication system), and expeditor for Page Communications on the Alaska pipeline, Rachel continued her teaching career, teaching grades three, four and five in Aniak, accounting in UAF's Old Main, physical education in the old gym, which is now UAF's Administration Building, and in what was the new UAF Patty Gymnasium. She retired from the Business Department at Lathrop High School in 1982.
Don died in 1984. In 1986, Rachel bought a unit in Venture Out, a large retirement park in Mesa, Arizona. Here she enjoyed potlucks, cards, theater, tennis, pickleball, bocce ball, square-, round- and ballroom dance. Her family was uppermost. She still spent most of her time in Fairbanks, living in her home on Totem Drive and visiting family in upstate New York. One summer, she played on a tennis team, playing in Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. She also traveled in Russia, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic. She enjoyed cruises to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, and throughout Alaska and the Lower 48.
She was proud to be an Alaskan and a member of Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 8, International Sourdoughs, and Fairbanks Tennis and Farthest North Pickleball associations. She enjoyed Ollie, the adult learning classes sponsored by UAF. She played golf at the Fairbanks Country Club and danced in the Pioneer Park dance hall.
Rachel was preceded in death by her husband, Donald D. Thomas; her parents, J. Ernest and Henrietta J Weinberg; and her brother, Donald E. Weinberg. She is survived by her son, Timothy N. Thomas, of Fairbanks; son and daughter-in-law, Ted and Lori Thomas, of Woodhull, New York; sister, Dorothy Arnold, of Anchorage; brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Ernest and Virginia Weinberg, of Vancouver, sister-in-law, Lillian Weinberg, of Denver; grandchildren, Ariel and Dylan Thomas, of Fairbanks, Jessica, Connor and Erin and Matthew Thomas, of New York; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, donate to a . A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at the University Presbyterian Church, led by Pastor Neil McCoy.
Final resting place will be beside her husband in the Veteran's Section of Hardin Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be made to the family at Blanchardfamilyfuneralhome.com.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Sept. 20, 2019
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