Richard Charles Thomas

Richard Charles “Bugga” Thomas

Born December 16, 1940; passed away June 25, 2013.

Rick Thomas, leaves behind a devoted wife, Barbara Rae (Chaussee) Thomas, and two children; Author Russell Henry Holter, and Home School Teacher, Saundra Lynn (Holter) Schaeffer. Rick also leaves behind two grandchildren, Alexander Russell Holter, and Lynessa Michelle Schaeffer. Rick has a daughter-in-law, Heather MacNab Holter, a Speech and Language Pathologist for the Franklin Pierce School District and a son-in-law Michael Schaeffer, a technician for the Microsoft Corporation. He was preceded in death by his younger brother Lawrence Arthur Thomas; his mother Winifred “Rita” (Claussen) Thomas, and his father Herbert Alden Thomas.

Rick Thomas began his life in Sacramento, California. His mother and father soon moved away to rural Issaquah to a little bungalow on far eastern bank of Beaver Lake where he spent his boyhood days involved in vigorous activities like swimming across the lake and back. Rick graduated from Issaquah High School in 1959 where he excelled in the field of Mathematics.

Rick spent two years at Washington State College studying to be a Math teacher. He joined the Washington State National Guard for a tour of duty but was discharged from the Guard as the crisis unfolded in Vietnam. By 1970 he was working as carpenter for Framont Construction; a company owned by Barbara’s brother Monty Chaussee. Rick and Barbara were deserted together at a bridal reception where Barbara jokingly suggested that they show-up the rest of the party goers by running off and getting married. The two were inseparable from that time forward and were married in October 1971.

It was while working for Framont Construction, under the management of Francis P. Chaussee (Barbara Rae’s father) that Rick Thomas was asked when he was going to build a spiritual house for his new family. Francis, a lay-pastor of the North Seattle Alliance Church had bewildered Rick, causing him to ponder such things as his eternal destiny. After some initial resistance, he came to know Jesus as Lord.

The two raised a small family living in various places, moving for the convenience of being near one construction job after another. The couple formed Thomas Construction which at first specialized in the fine details of trimming out homes and preparing them for sale. Over the years Thomas Construction grew into a general contracting firm which operated almost exclusively in the north King and south Snohomish county areas. Single family homes were constructed by Thomas Construction in the Arrowhead neighborhood of Kenmore; Equestrian Tracts in Redmond; and Martha Lake in Lynnwood, to name a few. After the Boeing recession of the early 1980s, the housing market in the Puget Sound area suffered mightily during this period and Thomas Construction changed from being a home manufacturer to become a household remodeling company. Thomas Construction survived the recession and finally came to an end earlier this year, after 35 years of business.

Rick, who always claimed to be allergic to children, found a new source of pride in his life with the arrival of his two grandchildren, Alexander Russell Holter followed, soon after, by Lynessa Michelle Schaeffer. Alexander demonstrated a natural inclination towards mathematics and Lynessa was the one who affectionately gave Rick the nickname “Bugga” for his overall loveable but crabby disposition. The name stuck. The grandchildren delighted in finding new ways to work Bugga into alliterative conversations, like, “Have you hugged a Bugga?”

During much of the past thirty years, Rick imbibed his passions for music, food, and cruising. His favorite show was Iron Chef becoming hooked on the earlier Japanese version long before the American show debuted. He was a Trekkie and enjoyed movies of the science fiction genre and dark comedies.

He was a classical music snob and made no bones about it. Some of his favorite composers were Dvorak, Handel, Holst, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Orff, Saint Saens, Strauss, and Wagner, but the one the thing he was most proud of was sharing his birthday with Ludwig Van Beethoven. He enjoyed listening to King-FM and was known to cast off the carpenter’s belt for a tuxedo and attend the opera. His favorite opera was Madame Butterfly.

Food and cruising just seem to go together. Rick made friends easily and on one particular occasion had the pleasure of the company of the Vice-President of Curacao as a table mate. The two became fast friends and he and Barbara had a standing invitation to visit the island nation anytime. Several years later, they were able to take up the invitation and were whisked away in from the dock as a priority passenger in a presidential limousine—much to the envy of everyone left standing at the wharf.

He loved sharing his passion for good cooking with anyone whether it was sharing a recipe or sitting down to a fine meal. Rick’s culinary skills attracted some serious star power having had the opportunity to prepare meals for the Executive Chef of Holland America and was offered a job as a chef working for actor John Wayne. Thanksgiving meals will never be same again without him.

In February of 2013, Rick was complaining of joint pain radiating from his hand. He went to the doctor expecting to find that he had broken his thumb or was suffering some type of tendonitis only to be admitted into Oncology—as a precaution. After a week of tests, it was shown that he had contracted AML which is the most aggressive form of leukemia. The doctors told him that a man at his age only had a 20 percent chance of survival. Over the course of the next 16 months, Rick cheated death four times, underwent extensive and sometimes experimental chemotherapy treatments and demonstrated some remarkable results. He set goals for himself and succeeded to not only live to see his 72nd birthday, but to celebrate it at home with family and friends.

Soon afterward, his cancer was no longer in remission. He was sent to hospice care where, after a week, he was declared by his hospice physician, “The most ‘alive’ patient she had.”

He was transferred back to oncology and given a new lease on life. By February, one year after his diagnosis, Rick was qualified for stem cell replacement therapy at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The stem cell replacement was considered a success and the doctor’s marveled at his resiliency against all odds and the cancer which appeared to be completely gone.

Six weeks, later, he slipped and fell, and was sent back to the hospital only find out that his weakened condition was from a return of AML. This time, the man the doctor’s referred to as the “Comeback Kid,” was not coming back. The stem cell replacement therapy had strengthened his immune system but only temporarily and he was sent back to hospice care. Rick’s unwillingness to express his discomfort and his overall jovial disposition nearly got him kicked out of the facility because the staff did not feel that he was close enough to the end. However, his family knew that in his compromised condition that he could not bear another transfer and pleaded for him to stay. The staff agreed to keep him over the weekend and re-evaluate. The following Monday the case was obvious, Rick could no longer hide the pain and even the simplest of tasks were unbearable.

After spending the day with his beloved wife Barbara, Rick slipped quietly through the silvery door into everlasting life at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

9 Responses to “Richard Charles Thomas”

  • Doris M Anderson says:

    Dear Barbara and Family,
    Thank you for the lovely obituary. It brought back memories of Rick’s fine personality and the joy he brought to us while working on the parsonage.I still use his recipe for a cream substitute — half canned milk, half regular milk and some vanilla. Works great.I also remember the wonderful salmon wrapped in some sort of eggie covering like a brioche he brought to Holly’s wedding. He was fun and died well, trusting all to the Lord. Our love to you in your great loss!

  • Libby Townsend says:

    There are no words…I am so,so sorry…

  • Melodie Bautista says:

    I believe it was back in 1978 that we had the pleasure getting acquainted with Rick and Barb Thomas, while attending church at InterLake HS. After returning to the PNW, we again consistently saw Rick and Barb at Lakeland Bible Church.

    Although we shared a common desire to learn God’s word, there wasn’t too much that we knew about Rick, except his flair for culinary arts and music.

    Whom ever took the time to write this piece did a nice job; I enjoyed reading it.

    It is so very comforting to know Rick is with his Savior, and we look forward to being among the ranks of church-age believers who will live with the Lord Jesus Christ in his forever kingdom.

  • Theresa Hill Tuengel says:

    Hi Barb,
    So very sorry for your loss. Rick is a terrific guy and I am sure he will be missed by you all. What a sweet reunion awaits all his family.
    It’s been many years since we you, Rick and I were at Grace Chapel in Kirkland and a lot of water under the bridge has gone. But I enjoyed Rick whenever we spoke.
    I lost my brother Tom (Tom and Sherri Brown) to renal cell cancer two years ago now. It was very difficult.
    Take care, and I will be praying for extra comfort your way.

    Theresa Hill Tuengel.

  • Nancy Scott says:

    Dear Barbara and family,
    What joy Rick has brought to so many. We loved the times we came over for dinner and he made such special dinners. We talked in the hospital about how in heaven maybe he will be the best chef. Thank you for the wonderful story of his life in the obituary. He is having a wonderful time with our LORD and all those who have gone before. I will be praying for you to continue to use GOD’s strength and help in the days ahead.
    Your friends Joe and Nancy

  • Victoria Chaussee says:

    Dear Barbara & Family,
    What a lovely tribute! I will always treasure Rick and you all for your love of classical music and for coming to my opera performances. Your support meant a lot to me. Also for sharing that lovely Thanksgiving dinner at Monty’s where we all had a taste of Rick’s delicious specialty, Vichyssoise soup, well except Clarisse :).
    I will always remember Rick as a really positive person, funny as heck, larger than life and a piece of sunshine for you all.
    All my love,

  • Rev. Paul Schmidtbleicher says:

    Dear Thomas Family,
    I knew Rick from afar in the visits he made to Evergreen Baptist with Barb during his last months. He was immediately placed on our Prayer List and remembered every Sunday Morning service during opening prayer.
    Our desires do not always coincide with those of the Lord who knew Rick intimately as his Lord and Savior. His plan for Rick was different than our desires. That plan continues on for Rick in glory, but we have the confidence that we all who have trusted in Christ for our salvation will join Rick at the feet of Jesus and spend eternity together. What a joyful confidence!
    The written tribute here to Rick’s earthly life is one of the best I have ever read, complete, candid, and very honoring.
    Pastor Paul

  • Brian Splan says:

    What a great person, and was blessed to have known them in the early days. I have so many memories of all of you. I will never forget that look on Rick’s face at Gordy’s funeral, and wishing hours later that I could have remembered all those times but was still in shock and could not remember where I new you from. But Rick I remember you now, you and Barb, and Russ, and Sandy… it’s been years since I’ve seen any of you but the memories are still here. Thanks

  • Brian Splan says:

    Hey Barb I could use some good cards right about now… please read for me. Thanks and love to all

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