Craig Michael Thomas

Craig Michael Thomas

Craig Michael Thomas

NINILCHIK, Alaska — Craig Thomas “accomplished all the things that he wanted to accomplish in life,” said his sister, Kelly Best. He died on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. He was 59.

Craig Michael Thomas was born to Walter and Colleen Thomas, of Altamont, on Feb. 14, 1959. His father was a tile setter, while his mother was a homemaker who wrote a recipe column for The Enterprise in the early 1970s, her daughter said.

Growing up in Altamont, Craig played Little League and was involved with the Boy Scouts, Mrs. Best said. In 1977, he enlisted in the United States Army and never again called Altamont home.

However, Mrs. Best said, “The reason that we’d like the obituary in The Enterprise is because, as my mother said, and as I’ve always said, ‘When you grow up in Altamont, you develop friendships that last a lifetime.’”

Mr. Thomas served in the Army for over 10 years, his wife, Mariah Thomas-Wolf, wrote in a tribute. He was a non-commissioned officer with the Army’s Nuclear Chemical Biological Engineers, and had been stationed in Germany, Texas, Washington, Alaska, “and the global theater,” his wife wrote. He was honorably discharged in December 1989.  

Mr. Thomas met Mariah, his soulmate, in 1995, while they were both volunteering at the Yukon Quest, a thousand-mile international sled-dog race, which is run every February between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Mr. Thomas had been a member of the Quest board of directors and the assistant race manager for two years, his wife wrote.

The couple settled in Ninilchik, Alaska, where Mr. Thomas worked as a heavy-duty and light-engine mechanic, and where Mrs. Thomas-Wolf worked as a teacher and school principal.

With their dogteam, the couple traveled “across Kachemak Bay to Seldovia, the Kuskokwim village of Tuluksak, Point Hope on the North Slope, and other remote locations,” Mrs. Thomas-Wolf wrote in her tribute.

The Thomases ultimately combined their dogs with the Tuluksak School dogteam, Mrs. Thomas wrote. The new team competed successfully in the Centennial 2008 All Alaska Sweepstakes, placing 10th.

At the All Alaska Sweepstakes, Mrs. Thomas-Wolf wrote, her husband “provided extensive snowmachine support on the 400 mile race trail from Nome to Candle and back, a mere two years after being released from the transplant facility.”

The couple married in 2005 at the George E. Wahlen Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Mr. Thomas was preparing for a heart transplant.

“They gave him five [years] and he made it 12 [years],” Mrs. Best said of the doctor’s prognosis for her brother after he received a new heart.  

Mr. Thomas was an active member of the American Legion Post 18 Ninilchik, where he was vice commander. He enjoyed being involved in community events, his wife wrote, like “volunteering at checkpoints and staking trail for the K300 and T200 sled dog races and as a Salmonstock/fest Campground Host and Beergarden Security.”  

“Craig was an avid outdoorsman, a skilled mechanic, and would help anyone in need,” his wife wrote in her tribute. “His dogs and his family and friends were important to him.”

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Craig Michael Thomas is survived by his wife, Mariah Thomas-Wolf, of Ninilchik, Alaska; by his children, Terry Thomas and his wife, Sandra, of Markbreit, Germany, Jennifer Halfpap-Thomas, and her husband, Michael Halfpap, of Marktsteft, Germany, and by his stepson Zachary Dalton Wolf Schindler; and by eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He is also survived by his mother, Colleen Simmons, of Guilderland; and by his sisters, Lisa Thomas-Sachar and her husband, Phil Sachar, of Phoenix, Arizona, and Kelly Best and her husband, Walter, of Altamont; as well as by two nephews and one niece.

His father, Walter Thomas, died before him.

He is also survived by his four remaining beloved sled dogs — Bud, Seed, Lupa, and Bishop.

A memorial service will take place at a later date in Ninilchik, Alaska.

— Sean Mulkerrin

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