Russell W. Thomas was born April 22, 1946, in Hanford, Calif. He passed away on July 5, 2020, in Coeur d’Alene.
We would like to invite all of our family and friends to a celebration of life and open house in honor of Russell Thomas. This will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on July 24, 2020, at the outside pavilion at 477 E. Honeysuckle Ave., Hayden, ID 83835. In honor of Russell, please come dressed in casual or patriotic colored clothing.
Russell’s parents were Eugene and Helen Thomas, and he had three, much older brothers. Due to the age difference, he was raised similar to an only child. Although he was born in Hanford, he was raised in Corcoran, which is a smaller farming community in California.
Russell met this cute girl in 1967, Angela Hammond, at a USO dance in Tacoma, Wash., after he had returned home from Vietnam. At the time he was serving at McCord Air Force Base. They were married on Aug. 30, 1968, in the Fircrest Methodist Church, in Tacoma. They moved around often in the early days, later settling in Coeur d’Alene.
They had enjoyed 48 years of wedded adventures at the time of Angela’s passing in 2016. During their military time, they were blessed with two daughters, Christena, born in 1971, in Tucson, Ariz., and Margaret, born in 1975, in Tacoma. Russell and Angela have four grandchildren who they loved dearly. This does not include all the bonus children and grandchildren who were welcomed into their home and hearts over the years.
Russell always had a love of the outdoors, his family and his country. Angela loved to tell the story of their honeymoon, which was really a hunting trip for Russell with his dad and brothers. Angela also told stories about him fishing at strange hours while they were stationed in Alaska.
Many people were unsure if Russell liked them when they first met as he was a “strong, silent” guy. Once he started joking or being sarcastic, all bets were off and everyone knew he loved them!
Due to the love he had for his daughters he became a Girl Scout Leader in California. He was loved by the parents and all the girls, which gained him his favorite nickname of Mr. Coffee. As a leader, he would take us tent camping and cooking, and word spread that he was an amazing cook. He was inspiring as a leader, husband, dad, grandpa, friend and veteran.
Russell has always had a love for his country and you can see that early in his life. His three older brothers served. He signed up for the Air Force in August 1965, when signing up for any military branch wasn’t looked upon favorably. Russell spent a year in Vietnam, returned home and continued his military service. He became very active in the VFW after moving to Coeur d’Alene. He loved connecting with other veterans and found it a great way of giving back, and most importantly, supporting those who had served and those who will serve in the future. He was also involved with Kootenai County Veterans Council and DAV.
Russell was 27 years old when his father died of lung cancer and 36 years old when his mom died from Alzheimer’s. Although he had three brothers that have preceded him in death, the most difficult was when his oldest brother, Don, died in 2008 of complications of cancer. Russell received a diagnosis in April of 2019 of kidney cancer that had metastasized to his lungs. This was a tough blow but one he accepted with a positive attitude and a fighting spirit to the bitter end. He passed away at Hospice of North Idaho in the early morning of July 5, 2020, peacefully and surrounded by his two girls.
Russell is survived by his daughter, Christena Anderson; son-in-law, Gary Anderson and grandson, Thomas Stores; his daughter, Margaret Leuck; son-in-law, Joshua Leuck and grandchildren Sierra, Rusty and Emma Leuck; along with many cousins, unofficial children and grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life for Russell Thomas will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on July 24, 2020, at 477 E. Honeysuckle Ave., Hayden, ID 83835.
Interment services with military honors at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery will be held at a later date due to COVID-19.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to the Schneidmiller Hospice House, cancer research or any veteran organization.