I have to begin by thanking and offering much grateful kudos, to all of Ken's loved ones whose insight helped create this blessed community resource to celebrate the life of our cherished friend, amazing team member and family man, Ken Thomas.
He indeed brought incomparable value as a super star, to those who spent time with him. He occasionally refer to a few of us by saying something like, "how much he enjoyed the company of those few who, like satellites in his orbit, shared (his) rotation with him", and of course who also benefited from the light he provided, ... on so many levels. As a "man's man", Ken's gift at demonstrating profound vision and compassion to, and for those whose good fortune it was to be apart of his endeavors, saw that this ability never took away from his affinity for strong leadership, while also demonstrating humility and appreciation for the wonders of his life. And "wonders" it was for him, ever reminding those close to him of his inclination for curiosity, and the energy of his "boyish vitality" that was also, our sweet and amazing Daddy Ken Thomas.
While Ken dutifully found his place as one of the team, of any group he chose to be apart of, I know you'll agree that he did so, while shining just a little bit brighter, and stronger than the rest of the crowd, in whatever he committed himself to. A truly fascinating example of harmonious balance a midst the many types of paradoxes he exemplified that he seemed to manage effortlessly, he was as pragmatic in his need for realistic choices, as he was fanciful, and given to great imagination. Ken was yes, "a traditionalist" in many of his values, while also over, and again leading the way into new ways of thinking. Ken often voiced the opposing voice of reason, and fair consideration, as he remained consistent with unwavering support for the under dog. Ken never stopped being the student of life as he continued to pass along his knowledge, while he mentored, and guided others in their respective personal choices. He is in all truth the model human spirit, given his resilience to disappointment, and obstacles. He continued to accept his simple human frailties, and flaws, as most demonstrated in how Ken met his final greatest struggle around his health's vulnerabilities.
Whether in the work place as the unending source of compromise, novel options, and out-of-box solutions, or in one of the community projects he was noted for in his capacity as a board member, consultant, or simply an interested contributor, Ken helped shape a project's purpose with steady leadership, and rarely failed in his goals. And when he did make a mistake, Ken always, with ease and collaboration, acknowledged the better choice. In his absence, I'm astonished at how many of the little things that happen in so may ways, on sooo many days, ... that brings his good counsel, and camaraderie to mind. I hate missing him so much.
A-a-a-all, the simple things and complexities that made Ken such an important part of so many lives, now seemed to spiral into the memories of the laughter and the tears, we sometimes share together over this or that. God how astonished i often found myself at finding out about "one more" of Ken's per chances for being "the collector"! His dedication to all manors of art, music, off-the-beaten-path interests, and all forms of media was unique. I believe his comprehensive group of Gnomes, of all sorts and sizes must be, in some magical way, letting him know how special his regard for them will always be remembered. His affinity for the many lighthouses he sought out,and had art pieces of, is now a legacy that any of us can join him in, even in simple donations to that cause. At some point, nearly each time that I ride my motorcycle, I think of Ken, as well as knowing that going out for a meal of Dim-Sum will spark the enjoyment of those spontaneous good times. Whenever, I see a billboard, or notice a commercial for great new movie being released, especially the "actions films" with their bigger than life special-effects, (of the junior-high kid mentality, ) that often eliminated most of our usual movie crowd, I sink in that moment of emptiness ... knowing it's gonna be a good while before I again set in one of those movie theater seats again.
Most of all, I fear I may never experience another person's passion ever again that our, Friend, Teacher, Brother, Master and of course Daddy Ken Thomas' maintained in his heart for the common, everyday human being. While religiously "spiritual", he was the best at giving honor and respect to the priest's teachings of the church he grew up with, and knew as a young choir boy, while simultaneously modeling sincere respect, and fascination for all the positive energies, and rituals of other spiritual believes, and traditions. The little things he did, as well as the large amounts of time, and sometimes money he gave to any number of valued initiatives, and to new, and old friends to support, and aid in their respective growth, and development were amazing! I've never seen anyone with such an annual "calendar ritual" that required the updates to soooo many birthdays, anniversaries, and important family related dates, which he created each year,... He'd do so right after the new year was in, during the first week of January, after all the holiday cards had been sent to nearly all friends, and family, (he pretty always winced over someone he'd missed) and his holiday parties were then memories, of which he was the Master of.... Memories, and respect for knowing who you are, noting what values make you the individual you are! These were the important perspectives Ken instilled in so many close to him. I now know that when each April 26th, happens I'll do more than just remember my tribal brother, fellow daddy, playful soul, and friend, Ken R. Thomas. I will never forget how each year on the death anniversary of Doug, his first partner, Ken showed me how it's possible to remember, and honor the great loss of a loved one, while also, experiencing and showing the appreciation for the amazing passion he had for his vibrant life that he LIVE EACH DAY with, in the love, he was blessed to share with beloved partner, Tim and his cherished family, and friends he surrounded himself with.
It may take a while, but on some April 26th of the future, I hope to be able to smile a bit more, and feel a little less empty for his absence, and instead replace that sadness with some of the kindness and spiritual power and joy that Ken Thomas brought to his and everyone's life whom he touched ....
A Respectful Anonymous Brethren
Though we knew Ken for just under a year, having been introduced to him by Tim, we felt we had found a new friend, one that made us feel at home when they invited us to their home for New Year's Eve last December. Their prior visit to our home was one we remember for the shared evening of good conversation in getting to know each other. We will sorely miss the many great times we would have had with Ken had his passing not come so prematurely. Our thoughts are with Tim and his many other friends that will remember him always.
I knew DaddyKen only a short time, but he was always warm and generous toward me (and toward pretty much everyone I saw cross his path, come to think of it). I'm so glad to have known him just a little. His generous and fun-loving spirit was infection and something to which I can only aspire.
I am sorry that I will not be able to attend the memorial in San Francisco due to a long-standing work event I must attend in Alameda, but I will be there in spirit.
I'm sure Ken will be there in spirit, too.
Ken Thomas and I attended Glacier High School together.
The first time I saw Ken after high school was in 1986 at the Seattle Paramount Theater where I was working - he was there with Doug at "La Cage aux Follies." Ken was so comfortable introducing his partner - in 1986!
Interestingly, we interacted the most after high school, when he lived in Portland.
Ken hosted me when I bicycled Seattle to Portland in 1995 - and stayed a couple days longer.
Ken & Doug often had a "foster" child - these were kids that would have been living on the street if not for Ken & Doug giving them a place to stay.
I was in Portland at Ken's when Princess Diana's funeral was on - and we were up at 3 AM to watch it live.
I never got down to Ken's after he moved to San Francisco, but we continued to exchange Christmas Cards.
When Ken met Tim that was big news in Ken's life - and I received lots of e-mails about Tim.
Tim and the rest of Ken's families lost a great guy!
I know that we were never close, mostly because I was 18 years old and scared of the word but please know that you were my second mentor and friend in this crazy world!
You mean and always will be my second teacher.
Ken was an impressive and very caring man who would do anything for anybody. I had the honor of sitting with him several times when he shared wisdom and advice that I will carry with me through my lifetime. He not only impacted those around him, but also communities across the nation. I am proud to have known him and call him my friend. He will be missed.
My Dear Dear Daddy Ken,
This man touched many lives.. Mine he enhanced so much. Ken was one month younger than I and was a mentor and support that I can not put to words... I knew him only a short while and he affected me so deeply. I called him on many an occasion just for an ear to bend a moment of comfort in a stressful time in my life. I will forever be touched by this man and will try to live my life as well as he did. He will be missed does not even scratch the surface of how I feel right now.
Love You Daddy Ken
Ken - you were a great friend and a brother at a time when I needed someone to be. Thank you for all that you are and continue to be to all of us. You are missed!
It's quite simple, really. i simply love you. i will imagine you following us all around, watching to see what silly thing will cause us to mention you next.
Put in a good word for me, will you?
Slideshow honoring the recently deceased Daddy Ken Thomas as presented at NWLC 2012
Images are from sources including RichTrove.com and rememberken.net
Thanks for the opportunity to share the memories of Ken. It is obvious he was loved deeply by both friends and family.
Ken was our son, we loved him, he will be missed.
Thank you everybody for your support.
Have meet Ken at one of our times of need, he was a wonderful support. He will be missed.
Way back when, Ken Sr and his wife, Lindy, were PTA presidents at Southern Heights Elementary, where my mother was a teacher. I kid-sat for Ken and Evelyn and later, Brian and Sharon. I watched a "pong" game for the first time at that house. They were all awesome kids, but Ken touched my heart one time when he talked to me about his freckles. At the time, they weren't cool. I also have freckles and I could sympathize. He was intelligent, he was sensitive, and he was amazing with his siblings. The main reason I was there after Sharon was born was probably to make sure he and Evelyn didn't fight too much. Hey, I have a brother two years older than me, I know what it's like. Especially when your brother is super smart.
It was my favorite kid-sitting job. Ken Sr and Lindy were people to look up to and all their children were amazing.
I know Ken will be missed by all who knew him.
I met Ken for the first time a very early June morning in 2011. I'd just arrived in San Francisco the day before, and I was heading to Twin Peaks with two of my favorite people, Troy & Robert, whom I first met in 2004. This was my 9th trip to San Francisco.
At Twin Peaks, we were gonna assemble the Pink Triangle. I'd brought my camera and actually didn't do any real assembling. But I took lots of photos of the process, including several of Ken, whom I instantly liked after Troy and Robert introduced me to him. A bunch of my photos from that day are featured on this site, including that final Facebook Timeline cover image.
My main memory of Ken will always be celebrating 4th of July at his and Tim's place, together with Troy and Robert and a few other people. In spite of having spent quite a few summers in the United States previously, this was actually my first 4th of July on American soil. But I somehow doubt that it was a very typical kind of 4th of July that I got to experience. Because the party - with all its great food and snacks and drinks - didn't so much turn out to be a regular party, as it turned out to be a seven-hour discussion about leather, puppy-play and other kinds of fetishes, pretty much all of which were quite foreign to me. It was quite an educational experience for me, to say the least.
The following day, I wrote a long e-mail to an English friend of mine about the whole ordeal. His response was:
"Ok. I think thats the best email I've ever had. Seriously you should write for Vice or something. They'd love that stuff."
Anyways, after the discussion came to an end, Ken and I, along with one of the other guests, drove to the spot around where Portola turns into Market and watched the fireworks together. The ride back with Ken was my favorite part of the night. He applauded me for sitting out that seven-hour debate and said I'd definitely earned some brownie points for that. He patiently told me about his work within the leather/master-slave community, and I got to understand it all a bit better. Towards the end of the long discussion, which I'd mostly been a spectator of, I had joined in for a bit and asked some questions and made some comments - from a skeptical outsider's perspective, if you will. I talked with Ken about that in the car, and he told me that my points had been spot-on. That made me very happy.
When we got back to Ken and Tim's place, where only Troy and Robert were left, the five of us hung out for a while, and that was really, really nice, too. Their place was great. During the discussion, I'd made friends with their 21-year-old cat, and I also got to talk with Tim - about his academic background among other things. I got to peek in his book about Sylt. I couldn't believe he had a really big book about a relatively small German (previously Danish) island off of the coast of Denmark. If he'd have a Denmark-themed book at all, I would have assumed it would have been a collection of Hans Christian Andersen fairytales or something.
I'm really glad I got to meet Ken, and it's strange to be 6,000 miles away in a situation like this. But this whole website is really great, and I'm happy to be able to contribute to it.
All the best,
Ken was the Western Region LAN Administrator for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, working out of the Salem office and covering Eugene, Roseburg, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, and Medford as well when I met him. He was the most professional member of the staff and hands down the snappiest dresser of all of us! I always knew he was destined for greater things due to his intelligence and superior technical skills, and I owe the fact that I was able to become the new LAN Admin after he left to his patient mentoring. I was really excited for Ken when he left to follow his dream of working in the bay area, but sad to see him go at the same time. I always felt like Ken didn't get the appropriate recognition and appreciation for the phenomenal job he did at DEQ. Our agency and the citizens of Oregon benefitted greatly from his hard work bringing Information Technology to an environment where no IT Pro had ever gone before, and we are grateful for his hard work, perseverance, and sacrifices. I speak not only for myself, but for many, many other friends Ken had at DEQ when I say that we are sad he is gone, but we're so glad we had him in our lives for a while. Our thoughts are with all his family and many friends who also miss him.
I met Ken a short time after Doug passed away. We met on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
We started dating. This was the time frame that Ken was buying the duplex in NE Portland not far from my work.
I think I scared Ken when I called him right when he walked in. He said good timing I just walked in. I had to say it wasn’t good timing I just looked out the window from work and seen him walk in. He called me his stalker.
We moved in together a short time later. I came with my things and Nanners the cat.
While together, Ken and I took a couple of trips together. We went to Victoria and Vancouver, Canada and to San Francisco for Folsom Street Fair. We also took a trip to San Diego. While there we went to Pt Loma and seen the Cabrillo National Monument Light House. As all of you know Ken loves light houses. Ken being the planner while we were looking out over San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean Ken made me promise that when the time comes that I would take him and scatter him there.
After we broke up Ken decided to move to San Francisco. His plans were to put all of his furniture into storage. I had a large one bedroom apartment that had nothing in it. So I offered to store his stuff at my place so that it was not put into storage. Ken thinking about money said okay if I paid for it to be moved at my expense. I offered to be his co-driver for the drive to San Francisco. So with a moving truck and my car being towed we left Portland and drove down to San Francisco. Ken didn’t have a job yet so while Ken took my car to go to his interview I got to stay at his new place and supervise the unloading of the moving truck. I think he got the better of the deal there.
Ken and I kept in contact over the years. He would call me for banking questions and I would call him with computer questions.
Ken had a big heart and when I needed to “run away” from Portland, Ken was like come on down. This started the tradition of me coming down for a week starting the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Ken would take me all over and show me the City and the Bay. I could not tell you how many times I made Ken take me places that I knew he had been to a million times before. Ken introduced me to a lot of great people in the Bay Area.
Almost every trip to the Bay Area I would be do you feel that and Ken would say no. A few minutes later on the news it would say there was a small earthquake. I being from Portland that does not get many was like cool. Ken was like oh another one.
Ken did come get most of his furniture except for a big china hutch. This sat in my living my place until the summer of 2010. I was moving and needed it to be moved. Ken drove on up we loaded it into his truck for the trip to San Francisco. This was the last time I got to see Ken.
His death came as a shock to me, even though I’m still new to the leather family. I met Daddy Ken and Tim when they spoke at Leather Reign here in Seattle in November 2010. They also taught at our monthly Tribal Instinct educational series. The integrity of both of them, and their openness about their relationship was profound for me. Later, when I heard they formally ended their master/slave roles and became partners, I thought about it alot. I was hoping to talk to Daddy Ken again sometime, but I guess I won’t be.
My guy Robert and I met Ken in 2011 over homemade fondue and probably the longest back- and foot-rub I've ever had the pleasure to give. We had by then become enamored with Tim and were a bit nervous to meet the man we'd heard referred to as Daddy Ken, who held the key to Tim's collar and, clearly, his heart. Of course, it was quickly evident that we had nothing to worry about, and we got our first glimpse of a man whose obvious strength seamlessly blended with kindness and generosity. As the tentative first steps of friendship gave way to warm familiarity, I asked for permission to give Ken a shoulder rub, kicking off what would become our ritual; from that point on, I was compelled by Ken's moans of approval--with a few gentle corrections when I'd get too rough or clumsy. I can't think of a time we got together that I wasn't able to have that pleasure, if only for a few minutes; and I can't think of a time that Ken didn't afterward look me in the eyes and say 'thank you'.
I had a moment this past week when I was kind of blown away thinking about the landmarks we shared over the past year; Ken seemed to love holidays and celebrations, and he and Tim were kind enough to invite us to so many. After our first fondue at their place, we got together for Pride Weekend Pink Saturday (putting up the triangle--a first for Robert and me--and a bit more drunken celebration later), July 4th, Leather-Levi Weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and even Valentine's Day, when Ken and Tim invited us--to Matterhorn, this time--for fondue once again. And going to Canton for dim sum was like a holiday all its own.
I remember being thrilled when I first noticed that Ken went from referring to Robert and me as 'Tim's boys' to 'the boys'.
Robert and I were incredibly lucky to spend some time with Ken the night before he and Tim had to leave the city. Over a few drinks--Ken's lemon drops and our black-cherry cosmos--he told us how much he enjoyed his birthday-surprise Disney trip and his plans for his and Tim's anniversary the next day, which brought on reminiscences of how he and Tim met and came to San Francisco. I've grown ever more grateful these past weeks for that Saturday afternoon, how we got to see him smile and reflect on his happiness, his love for Tim, and his appreciation for the city and for friends.
The next day brought us to our last hugs. As I stopped by the house before Ken and Tim left for Oklahoma, Ken met me with a big hug at the door. We chatted in the kitchen with Tim for a while, and Ken excused himself to get some packing done. I can't remember if we had a hug then or not. I do remember that as I left, at the bottom of the stairs, I wondered if I should run back up to find him for one; I decided not to bother him and to just be happy knowing we would see each other on their return.
I started to regret that more as Ken got sick and it became clear that, despite our most desperate hopes, we would not see him again. I don't have that same regret now. Ken always had something to teach me. He listened to my insecurities and always gave reassurances. Our conversations always seemed to include subjects with which I wasn't familiar, and his response would be 'I'll teach you', or 'I'll show you', or--my favorite--'We'll do that together.' So now I take the lesson that one need never hesitate to show someone how much you love them, and I'll aim to live up to that.
I always felt Ken deserved to be touched, and I hope I told him often enough how much I enjoyed doing just that. I'll always be thankful for how much Ken has touched me--and how much he continues to do so, as I see how much his trademark strength and kindness is reflected in Tim, as well as other members of Ken's San Francisco family. To leave behind such a gift is as much as any of us could hope for.
If you think of your support system as a set of co-centric circles, closer and tighter connections moving towards the center, then I have a gaping hole where the center red dot used to be.
For those of you in San Francisco, my public persona is Mr. Vanilla, or at least that’s how Ken introduced me through the years as we walked the Castro together and every-other person stopped him on the street.
Ken and I met in 1998 in Portland at the local Aids foundation’s support group for those who and buried more than one partner – a group not as small as one might hope. Ken and I hit it off like gangbusters. Less than a year apart, parallel careers in IT. We became the centers of each other’s support networks. As our careers took off to different cities, we still talked, supported each other through the lonely Christmases, blessed or rejected each other’s prospective boyfriends, vacationed together and regularly had “couch time” when the anniversaries of ugly things came about. We leveraged each other’s knowledge for things technical and actually hired each other for work when one was consulting and the other wasn’t.
Ken held my hand as I stuck my big toe back into the waters of life after Brian and Bill’s passing, and even took off his shoes with me. He shared Christmas with me on his dad’s yacht. I took him to his first Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade in NY. We secretly spread Dougie’s ashes where they weren’t supposed to be. I watched in horror while he took doses of the first cocktail that burned like battery acid and closed his esophagus. He brought the first bottle of champagne to the opening of my new business ventures, but flew with me to Arizona when my travel schedule demanded that I give my dog away. He held my hand through countless cancer surgeries.
Ken threw wonderful parties in Portland that formed the basis of my first social network there. He dragged me to the coffee socials to meet new people. He snored in the bed next to me when I opened the Manhattan office of my firm. We plotted business plans, world renewals and seductions together. We camped (in many definitions).
But most of all, we talked. Endless hours on the joy of life, the agony of decision, and how difficult it is to live a life where the same people aren’t through it with you from beginning to completion. Ken and I both yearned for continuous connection and railed at the injustice of starting over and over - How a part of us goes with each passing, and remains a silent ache no matter that we were and are blessed with so many beautiful relationships.
I saw Ken and Tim last in February, and they helped my plan my latest big transition out of Wall Street and back into consultancy. I was literally hanging curtains in the guest bedroom of my house in Arizona for their much talked of visit when I got the call.
Though most of you never knew me, I send healing thoughts and warm Ken-hugs your way and thank you for all the wonderful, joyous stories you wove into Ken’s life that were subject of hours and hours of phone calls and dinner chats. It was a fearful leap he made leaving Portland and going to San Francisco.
I keep picking up my phone to talk to my best friend about all this pain reasserting itself.
And then I remember I have to delete that contact card…but maybe not. I’m sure Ken is working on a way to re-route his iPhone