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Donald's Story

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Donald MacGregor Thomson Jr., CDR USCG retired, passed over the bar on July 17th in Peoria, Arizona with family by his side. He was 85 years old.
Don was born in Los Angeles, CA. He attended the US Coast Guard Academy, where he excelled in sports and was especially fond of his four summer training trips aboard the Tall Ship USCG Eagle. His military career of 24 years included becoming a Coast Guard Search and Rescue pilot, working with Congress to maintain the Kodiak Alaska Coast Guard Air Station in active status, and initiating the Coast Guard's water rescue program.
Upon his retirement from the Coast Guard, Don taught at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, instructing many students, some of whom were crewmembers of the Edmonds Fitzgerald. He was requested by the USCG to return and lead the extensive search effort for that lost ship. He returned to Kodiak to develop and teach the first marine safety and navigation courses to fisherman at Kodiak Community College. He also assisted in development of the Fisheries Industrial Technology Center, now known as the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center.
Don relocated to Cornell University where he managed the Shoals Marine Laboratory, a research and training facility. This work led to work with the Sea Education Academy, Woods Hole, Mass. Don was in his glory, teaching classes at sea on the training and research vessel MV "Westward" as it traveled between Nova Scotia and the Bahamas.
In "retirement", Don became a paramedic in Overgaard, AZ, sat on the board of Trustees for Claremont (CA) School of Theology, was active in various local committees, and loved to play golf.
It is time to say, "You may stand down Don/Dad, we have the watch. Job well done!".
Don is survived by his children, Nina Pletsch (Jim) of Newport, WA, Nancy Haerer (Wayne) of Wasilla, AK, Don (Cheryl) of Newport, WA, David (Julie) of Marquette, MI and Bill (Wendy) of Oklahoma City, 16 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
Don was preceded in death by his wife of 44 years, Ellen Morgan Thomson in 1995 and son, Richard Major. He will join them in eternal rest at the National Military Cemetery of the Pacific, "Punchbowl".
There will be a Memorial service at the United Church of Sun City, on Sunday, August 27th at 3pm in the Grace Chapel. Contributions in his name can be made to favorite charities.
Published on August 5, 2017
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