The Curry Coastal Pilot

Russell Thomas, 95, of Brookings, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at his home, Macklyn House, in Brookings.

Russell was born May 4, 1918, in San Francisco.

Russell grew up in the Bay Area, graduating from Oakland High School in 1936.

Russell was a civilian contractor for Morrison Knudsen Corp., working on Wake Island in late 1941. Wake Island fell to the Japanese on Dec. 23, 1941, making Russell a prisoner of war. He spent the next four years as a POW in several camps in China and Japan. He was honorably discharged in October 1945.

After the war he married his first wife Molly. The couple had three children: Kathleen, Fred and Michael.

In the early 1960s Russell moved to Brookings and married Pauline Kelley. He was instrumental in developing the harbor in Brookings. As a boat builder, he built several 50-foot fiberglass fishing vessels. Russell also was a commercial fisherman and loved to be on the water. Russell was a proud member of the Brookings Elks Lodge 1934, where he was a founding member of the Elks RV Travel Club.

In retirement, he and his longtime companion Byrdene Perkins traveled throughout the country in their RV. They also enjoyed many cruises together, especially to Hawaii. Every fall he looked forward to traveling to Boise to be at the Wake Island POW reunion. He traveled to his last reunion in the fall of 2010.

Russell spent his last two years at the Macklyn House where he could be close to the Elks Club and downtown Brookings, and most importantly have a view of the sea.

Russell is survived by his three children Kathleen, Fred, Mike; stepdaughter Maureen McCain; grandchildren Robert and wife Elizabeth Merrick, Thomas Merrick, Howard and wife Heather Stephens, Russell Stephens, Mollie (Stephens) and husband Matthew Miller, Erin (Thomas) and husband Christopher McCarthy, Cynthia Thomas, Ryan Thomas, Sean Thomas, Mark McCain and Matt McCain. Also surviving are great- grandchildren Samantha Merrick, Nicole Merrick, Katie and husband Jordan Broder, Aiden McCarthy, Jackson McCarthy, Molly McCarthy, Courtney Thomas, Brooklyn Miller, Peyton Miller, Micah Miller, Katherine McCain, Quinn McCain, Max McCain, Sagen McCain, Kailis McCain. Great-great grandson Jackson Broder; niece Susan Thomas.

He was preceded in death by his brothers Charles and Ridgway; his first wife Molly; his second wife Pauline; and longtime companion Byrdene Perkins.

Russell will be buried at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard at a later date. Russell enjoyed the gift of flowers, so friends who wish may send flowers to Macklyn House, 755 Elk Drive, Brookings, OR 97415.

Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at

Submitted by Redwood Memorial Chapel.