On Thursday, April 26th 2012, Ken Thomas passed after a lengthy hospitalization in Oklahoma City. Ken had traveled to Oklahoma in March, to support his partner, Tim, in making the arrangements for Tim’s mother’s funeral. It was while they were there that Ken became seriously ill and was hospitalized. Though he fought intensley for many weeks, he ultimatly sucummed to the ilness. He left us peacefully, surrounded by his family.
Ken was born on February 20th, 1962 to Ken and Jan Thomas in Boston Massachusetts. He grew up bi-coastally, dividing time between his parent’s home in Seattle and his grandparent’s home in Scarsdale, NY. He and his sister Evelyn developed a deep bond which, characteristically, consisted of lots of fighting as children and teenagers and incredibly deep devotion to one another in adulthood. Although Ken only shared one parent with each of his other siblings he never used the term “half-brother” or “half-sister” — it meant nothing to him. He always spoke of coming from a family of five children which says a lot about the importance of family to him.
In his youth, he loved boy scouts, rocket club, chess club and torturing his little brothers and sisters. He used to have epic pillow fights in the living room, where he pummeled his siblings until they surrendered. The rivalries between the older of his two sisters often resulted in Monopoly boards being tossed, tears being shed and banishment from his room. Of course the “disagreements” were usually short lived and eventually, they could be found curled up in the living room, watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, covering each other’s eyes so as not to see the lion munching the gazelle.
Ken absolutely adored his paternal grandparents and was full of stories about his travels with them. He and his sister visited Hawaii many times and spent great times on the beach, in the surf and playing diving games in the pool. Though fair skinned, Ken was an adorable tanned freckle faced boy when he returned from those trips. He had very fond memories of their trip to Bermuda, where he watched the Bobby Fisher chess match while eating peanut butter, jelly and butter sandwiches and drinking Shirley temples in the bar (the only place in the hotel with a TV), and was there to witness the flowering of a plant that only blooms once every 100 years.When spending summers in New York he often visited Rye playland where he loved to ride the old wooden roller coaster and to (consistently) beat his little sister at the “shooting water into the clown’s mouth to pop a balloon” game. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm were other favorite travel memories for Kenny. From the Swiss Family Robinson tree house, to the Haunted Mansion and the rickety roller coasters in KBF, he loved his time in California, at the happiest place on earth.
Ken was lucky enough to experience great love more than once. He met his first partner Doug, in Seattle and they were together for 12 years until Doug’s death. He remained in Portland for some time but eventually felt the call to return to the Bay Area. Ken had a deep love for San Francisco, and considered it his true home. During his time working in Alaska, Ken met the love of his life when he met Tim. Though they were together for only 6 short years, Ken was devoted to Tim and loved him dearly.
He was a member, officer, and volunteer for a number of Bay Area clubs and events where he was known as “Daddy Ken” for his habit of taking people under his wing and nurturing them. He was known for his consistently upbeat attitude and his willingness to speak his mind. He was a respected instructor. Many people looked to his for mentoring and guidance, and appreciated the knowledge and wisdom he shared when teaching for groups such as the Cascade AIDS Project, Leatherman’s Discussion Group, The Society of Janus, Leather Traditions, Folsom Fringe, Leather Levi Weekend, Northwest Leather Celebration, and South Plains Leatherfest.
Ken was a great lover of all kinds of music and amassed a vast collection of 78 rpm recordings. He was a passionate motorcycle rider and loved his Honda racing bike. One of the high points of his life was when he served as a motorcycle route monitor for the AIDS Lifecycle.
He was a huge fan of Sci Fi, horror, and suspense films. If something blew up in the movie or a hot guy took his shirt off — he wanted to see it, even if it was the cheesiest Sci Fi movie ever made. He had a lifelong fascination with lighthouses. If it had a lighthouse on it, he would want to buy it — even if it was really ugly (Tim had to talk him out of buying a Thomas Kincaid painting more than once). He loved Christmas and looked forward to decorating the house each year. He had a passion for Nutcrackers in particular. He was always on the lookout for a new addition to his collection, which he added to every year.
Ken loved food. He developed a childhood passion for pigs in the blanket and popcorn. HIs West Coast upbringing really showed through in some of his favorites though. Although he described himself as a meat and potatoes man, his favorite foods were actually sushi and dim sum. Given the choice, he would have sushi before he would have a steak. Before bedtime he liked nothing better than a dish of vanilla ice cream covered with Kahlua.
Ken had great love for his pets. Through his devoted care, his two cats Morph and Gabbie lived extraordinarily long lives — each almost to the age of 20.
Ken worked in IT management for most of his life. After working for the state of Oregon for a number of years, he became involved with the health unit for CTG (Computer Task Group). He worked on a number of sites including hospitals in Anchorage, AK, Tucson, AZ, Phoenix, AZ, and ultimately for one of the country’s top academic medical centers, the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. It had been Ken’s dream to have a firm position in San Francisco and he truly loved his work there. Ken was a trusted advisor and was frequently called upon to respond to emergencies outside the scope of his day to day responsibilities. Ken was a member of a small, hand chosen team of professionals that represent the delivery of IT services to more than 850 hospitals and 150,000 users. Ken loved his work.
Ken is survived by his partner, Tim Pursell, his sisters Evelyn Thomas and Sharon Moore in Seattle, his brother Brian Thomas in San Jose, his brother Tom Mustaine in Rockwall, Texas as well as his mother Jan Mustaine and stepmother Malinda Thomas. In addition to his family of birth, Ken believed in the family of choice which for him included dear friends, prior partners, and newcomers to the community whom he nurtured. There are too many to mention by name so we hope they will tell their stories here.
Ken’s wish was to be cremated, and to have his presence shared in several special places from his life – Visit Ken. Because of his fascination with and love of lighthouses, we ask that any time you see a lighthouse, think of Ken.