Navy 03

William Robert Thomas

August 25, 1929 ~ June 16, 2021 (age 91)

Obituary Image


William “Bill” Robert Thomas, age 91, of John Day, Oregon passed away on June 16, 2021, at Blue Mt Hospital in John Day, Oregon. 

Bill was born August 25, 1929, in Portland Oregon, to William and Martha (Rudishauser) Thomas. He lived with his parents and siblings in John Day and Mt. Vernon, Oregon until he enlisted in the Navy on August 2, 1948.   He served as Radarman Third Class in the Navy and was honorably discharged on July 31st, 1952.  

He met his first wife, Janet Weyell, during a brief docking in New York City and got engaged three days later.  Bill and Janet married on August 10, 1952, at Helena’s Catholic Church shortly after his discharge from the Navy.   Right after their marriage, they took the train across the United States to Pendleton, Oregon.  They had to hitchhike from Pendleton to Mt. Vernon as the “stage” was not running on the day they arrived in Pendleton.  They were stopped and questioned by the local Sheriff for being runaways and had to show proof of their marriage.  This was all being conducted while Janet was standing on her suitcase in the middle of the road because of the horrible grasshopper infestation that year.  They were later picked up by Harley McGetrick, a log truck driver, who delivered them to Mt. Vernon. 

They set up their home in Kimberly at the Orchard and later they moved to the W4 Ranch and set up their home in the large white house on the banks of the John Day River.  They resided for a year in the Kimberly area where their first child, Linda was born.  From Kimberly, they moved to Yuba City, CA where he worked as a truck driver, and their second child, Billy was born. From Yuba City, they moved to Palmdale/Lancaster California where Bill worked for Northrop and Hughes Aircraft Aviation and their third child Chuck, was born.  Bill transferred from Northrop/Hughes to McClellan AFB in Sacramento.  They lived for a short time in Rio Linda and then onto Sacramento where they purchased their home and resided for the next nine years.  In 1969, the family moved back to Kimberly, OR where he worked at the family orchard until he retired and moved to John Day Oregon in 1994.

After the passing of his beloved wife Janet on August 2, 1999, he married Judy Gibbs on April 21, 2001. They had 20 wonderful years together and enjoyed a nightly competitive game of cribbage.  He was an avid hunter, fisherman, obtained his pilot license, and loved the outdoors.   He passed on his amazing shooting, archery, and hunting skills to his daughter, Linda, to his sons, Billy, and Chuckie and to his grandchildren, Shannon, Sean, Colby, Cassie, Whitney, and Bianca. He passed his love of the outdoors to all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  The grandchildren would make his day when they would stop by or call him with their recent hunting and/or hiking adventures.

Bill was preceded in death by his mother Martha, father William Bailey, stepmom Emily, and his wife Janet.

He is survived by his wife Judy, sister Alice Mills, daughter Linda (Kenny) McMurry, his sons Bill and Chuck (Maria) Thomas, Stepchildren Marvin (Jennifer), David (Roni), Shawn (Jim), and Brad (Julie), brothers John and Jim Thomas, 11 grandchildren: Shannon, Sean, Cassie, Colby, Amanda, Whitney, Bianca, Ethan, Maya, Bailey, Mark, and 16 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-grandson, 12 step-grandchildren, and 26 step-great-grandchildren, one step great-great-grandchild, several nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held at the John Day Nazarene Church followed by private graveside services.

“The journey does not end here. You will live in our hearts forever and we will cherish the memories made until we meet again.”

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Blue Mt. Hospital Scholarship Fund and local Nazarene Church through Driskill Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, Oregon 97845.


To send sympathy gifts to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Robert Thomas, please visit our tribute store.


Memorial Service
June 27, 2021

1:00 PM
John Day Church of the Nazarene
521 E. Main Street
John Day, OR 97845

© 2021 Driskill Memorial Chapel. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy