Born in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1935, Jack Thomas passed away at the family ranch on Feb. 9, 2018, at the age of 82, following a short illness. Jack was born to George and Lessie Thomas who moved to Winters when he was a young child and he grew up in Winters, graduated from Winters High School, married Barbara Graf and, together, they made Winters their lifelong home.
When the family moved to the ranch in 1962, the sheep ranch came to be. In years to come, he would run one of the largest sheep ranches in Yolo County, and in later years added cattle to the livestock operation. Dad owned a number of trucks over the years, but none more well known to all of us as his Valley Livestock truck — #34. He put on a lot of miles in that truck, hauling livestock throughout the western states. As we got older and would take driving vacations, he was quick to give us the best route to get to our destination!
Dad was a parishioner of St. Anthony Church in Winters and served as a Commissioner of the Winters Fire Protection District for many years, as well as a member of the Dixon Boat & Fishing Club. He also belonged to the California Wool Growers Marketing Group, while active in the sheep business.
Dad was an avid hunter and fisherman – we all learned to shoot using his 410 shotgun by a young age. He hunted deer and game, and hosted many a dove hunt. He spent a lot of time fishing with family and friends and owned a few different boats over the years. Anyone who grew up in this area, remembers the ‘big red barn’ at the ranch. After fire destroyed that, Dad took to his computer and began studying and trading stocks. He’d get up early so he’d be ready when the market opened and would spend a lot of time (and energy) passing on his knowledge to all.
He’ll be best remembered by all of us as the ‘meat cook’ during Sunday morning breakfast at the ranch. The family – and any number of friends – have been gathering for more years than we can remember for Sunday breakfast, homemade by Grandpa and Grandma….buttermilk biscuits, eggs, meat and a birthday cake, if there was a birthday that week.
In his later years, he became quite the cook! He’d spend the day cooking dinner and would then go down the phone list calling us kids to stop by and pick up dinner for our families — if you didn’t answer on the first call, he’d go to the next one on the list…you didn’t want to miss THAT call! He was also quite a gardener. No visitor left the house without a bag full of goodies from his bountiful garden – it wasn’t allowed. He had quite the green thumb!
He is survived by his wife of more than 62 years, Barbara, and children: Susie Stocking (Curtis) and children, Melanie, Chad, Courtney and Jackie; Sally Ivory and children, Stephanie, Katie and Jake; Nancy Mc Laughlin and children, Amanda and Mallory (Matt), great-grandchildren, Piper and Jack; Debbie Geerts (Ben) and children Keith, Aaron, and Skyler; Patty Cox (David) and children, Zach and Casey; John Thomas (Barb) and children, Sierra and Kyle. He’s also survived by his brother, Jim and wife, Kay, and brother-in-law and wife, Al and Kay Graf, along with numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and sister, Sue.
A memorial mass will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony Church, 511 Main Street in Winters. A celebration of life will immediately follow at the church hall. The family requests donations be made in his name to St. Anthony Altar Society or the St. Anthony Building/Maintenance Fund at 511 Main Street, Winters, CA, 95694, or the donor’s favorite charity.
Dad was interviewed by granddaughter, Jackie, for a family history report years ago and told her that ‘he loves his family and says that he has achieved so much with the help of all of them’….something he showed all of us by his kindness and generosity every day. We love you, Dad!