Pat Thomas expanded Thomas Sales and Service

A longtime Madras businessman, Pat Thomas, who owned Thomas Sales and Service from the early 1960s until his retirement in the early 1980s, died June 18, in Honolulu, Hawaii, at age 80.

"He was born July 15, 1932, in Madras, in the little white house behind the Texaco station," said his youngest son, Matt Thomas, of Bend.

Pat Thomas was the son of William and Loma (Laughlin) Thomas, who had opened the Madras Shell Station and Dodge and Plymouth dealership in 1937. That dealership, the Thomas and Doty Super Service Center, eventually became the main office of Thomas Sales and Service.

Matt Thomas said that his father attended the University of Oregon, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art. "He used to do all the cartoons for the yearbook at the University of Oregon while he was there."

Pat Thomas also served in the U.S. Air Force. "He was in the strategic command in the U.S. Air Force and ran the radar systems for the East Coast, stationed in Atlantic City," said Matt Thomas.

He was promoted to the rank of captain in the USAF Reserves in 1961, shortly after his father's death.

A successful businessman, Pat Thomas expanded the business to Redmond and Bend, where he built the Subaru dealership, still in operation on Highway 20.

Besides his influence in the automobile industry, Thomas served on the school board, and was a charter member of the Madras Elks Lodge.

"He and Carl Peterson, the owner of Bright Wood (in the 1960s), were instrumental in starting Mountain View Hospital (1967), and in getting the first doctor group in Madras (1968)," Matt Thomas added.

With his wife, Joan, Pat Thomas began traveling in the 1970s. "That was their passion in life," said Matt Thomas. "They've been everywhere — several times."

Since 1980, Pat and Joan, his wife of more than 60 years, had been traveling the world. "They lived in Kona (Hawaii) in the winters," said Matt Thomas. "They would spend summers in Bend or on a boat up in the San Juans."

Pat Thomas officially retired when he was 51 years old, recalled Matt Thomas, leaving the business in the care of his sons. Matt and Bill Thomas purchased the business from their father in 1995. Their oldest brother, Mark Thomas, owns an auto dealership in Albany.

The Thomases plan to have a celebration of life service for Pat Thomas, but haven't yet set the date.

"He loved life," said Matt Thomas. "He lived a life most people only dream of."

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