Colin (Coke) Thomson of Port Angeles passed away on January 26. Coke was born in Alberta, Canada in 1920. His family emigrated to the US when he was three years old and he later became a citizen. Coke grew up in Tacoma and Ellensburg. He met his future wife, Zoel, in Easton and they were married in 1941. They remained very much in love for all of their marriage.
Coke's working life began as a teenager bucking logs with a handsaw. He became a journeyman carpenter and worked in construction and boat building around the Seattle area until he moved his family to the upper Skagit Valley in the early 1950s to work in the woods as a faller. He eventually took a job as a millwright in Concrete and subsequently with a partner bought the shake mill. The mill was eventually sold, and Coke and Zoel moved to Port Angeles. With a new partner, Coke bought and began operating a shake and shingle mill on port property in Port Angeles. He sold his interest in the mill and retired in 1984.
Coke and Zoel enjoyed an extensive group of friends. These relationships came from childhood, various social contacts and business relationships that evolved into close personal friendships. The nature of all their relationships was recently expressed to Coke by a close friend who wrote to him that he was "…the kind that people cherish and tell others about." That being said, as much as they truly enjoyed their family and friends, they cherished the time they spent with just each other.
After retirement, Coke and Zoel traveled around the country and world. They visited family and friends, usually traveling in their RV. Their love of boating, begun in the 1960s, ramped up seriously in retirement. They cruised in the BC Gulf Islands and Alaska. These trips were with friends, family and solo. Coke loved to hunt with friends and family, including annual trips to hunt with his son Don in Alaska. He enjoyed cabinet making and their home included many improvements as a consequence.
Following the loss of Zoel in 2015, Coke maintained an active and independent life. To the end, he lived in his and Zoel's harbor view home, occasionally driving to Oregon into his late 90s. He would often share how much he missed Zoel while he lived a positive and gracious life. His friends and family sustained him and vice versa. Coke celebrated his 100th birthday last May at a small family gathering in Salem. His peaceful passing was a fulfillment of his fondest wish to be with Zoel again.
Coke was preceded in death by his dear wife Zoel, his parents James and Amelia Thomson, and his older brother Milton Thomson.
He is survived by his daughter Shawnie (Don) Kaminski; sons Jim (Karen) Thomson and Don (Marty) Thomson; granddaughters Kristin (Andy) Stewart, Jill Thomson, and Jennifer (Ian) Wilson; grandsons Brian (Kristi) Kaminski and Michael (Lyn) Thomson; great-granddaughter Claire Stewart; great-grandsons Colin (Dani) Stewart, Aiden Wilson, Kyle Wilson and Zane Kaminski. In addition, Coke is survived by his friend and caregiver Olena Palenga and her daughter Olga.
Coke enjoyed a gathering at his home on his birthday in recent years. He remarked that even he did not live to the next one, he wanted to happen anyway. Last year's celebration was a casualty of the epidemic. His family intends a similar event as a celebration of life when everyone is free to travel.
Published in Peninsula Daily News on Feb. 21, 2021.