Ralph Thomas passed away peacefully early on the morning of Nov. 28, 2019, which marked his 87th birthday, in Olympia, Washington. Ralph was born Nov. 28, 1932, in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, to Ralph Edison Thomas and Katherine Kemmerer Thomas. Ralph graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Upon graduation from Penn State, Ralph served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Korea for two years. Following his military service, Ralph began his first career as a chemical engineer for Shell Oil Company in Midland, Texas, where he met and married the love of his life, Betty Brotherton. While working for Shell, Ralph began attending Loyola University New Orleans School of Law before transferring to the University of Washington School of Law, from which he graduated with a J.D. in 1970. Ralph then joined James Stewart to form a law partnership in Montesano, Washington, where he practiced for over 20 years. He also served as a juvenile court judge during this time. Ralph began his third career as a missionary in 1991, when he and Betty were stationed in Nikolaev, Ukraine for two years. Upon returning stateside, Ralph served as general counsel for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in Madison, Wisconsin. He also remained a missionary in a variety of overseas posts with Betty, until his retirement in 2010. During his retirement, Ralph provided pro bono legal services for indigent clients in Olympia, Washington.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Betty Brotherton Thomas of Olympia, Washington; his children, Carolyn McCarson (Ted) of Winlock, Washington, John Thomas (Jennifer) of Portland, Oregon, Elizabeth Lindgren (Eric) of Bonney Lake, Washington, and Robert Thomas of Schenectady, New York; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. A service for Ralph will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Olympia, Washington. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.