Former Petersburg resident Kirk Arnold Thomas died Sept. 24, 2008, in Whitefish, Mont. He was 55.
He was a loving husband and devoted father, according to his family.
Born Sept. 22, 1953, in Petersburg, to Arliss and Samuel Thomas, he was a Norwegian and a Tlingit Alaska Native. He was an Alaska commercial fisherman for more than 35 years.
"He poured more salt water out of his boots than most men sailed upon," his family said. He met and married the "love of his life," Tracey Anne Burgoyne, on June 4, 1983, in Honolulu. His father-in-law referred to him as a "diamond in the rough." In 1991, he moved his family to Whitefish, Mont., where he started his business, NorskStar Seafood.
According to his family, the most commonly used adjective to describe him was "intense." If someone needed to get a job done, they would call on "Kirky."
His family said his heart was "as big as the world" and to those who knew and loved him most, he was one-of-a-kind. They said his infectious smile and energy was felt as he entered a room.
"As tough and rugged as his exterior appeared, his inner spirit was refined and gentle. He loved nothing more than to watch babies and children laugh and play," his family said. "His integrity was beyond reproof and his word was as good as gold. Few men could compare with his work ethic. The only time off from work was spent on hunting, and he was a master hunter keeping the freezers full each year."
He taught his children to be true to their convictions, to never back down to adversity, to be courageous, and to follow their dreams and treat all individuals equally, saying, "We all put our pants on one leg at a time," his family said.
"Kirk would want us all to be joyful in celebrating his life rather than mourn his death," his family said. "He died doing what he loved, with a shotgun and a fishing pole."
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Tracey Thomas; son, Barry Littleton and wife, Jen, and their children, Adian and Addison; sons, Tristan and Evan Thomas; daughter, Tianna Thomas, whom he lovingly referred to as "his princess"; sister, Kerri Tonkin, of Juneau; brother, Kelly Littleton, of NakNek; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, of Petersburg; and his NorskStar family across Montana and the United States.
A celebration of life will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Whitefish Assembly of God on Karrow Avenue in Whitefish.
Family donations can be made to the "Kirk Thomas Family Memorial Fund" at Glacier Bank in Whitefish.