ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Roger Thomas, 71 years old, born on November 27, 1949, and passed away on Easter morning, April 4, 2021.

We will remember him forever and to help us know more about how he touched, humored, and inspired our lives, I welcome you to share your stories and pics of Rog on this site! Memorial donations can be made to Rog's favorite charity, Habitat for Humanity.

Rather than a rushed, constrained memorial service for Rog, I will host a festive, laid-back Celebration of Life for him at my house in Alexandria, VA on the afternoon of Sunday, October 10th. If I haven't met you already, I look forward to it at this event! 

Rog and Ellen had recently moved from their long-time home in Arlington, to Greenspring Retirement Community in Springfield. Please email me at katie@mekanic.com if you would like an invite to the Celebration of Life, as well as Ellen's new address and phone number.

Hugs,
Katie Thomas Hansen
Posted by Katie Hansen on April 19, 2021
Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

- Henry Van Dyke

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Posted by Katie Hansen on April 19, 2021
Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

- Henry Van Dyke
his Life

Roger's Incredible Life

Roger Sutherland Thomas passed away at home on Easter morning, Sunday, April 4, 2021. Born to Winthrop Snowden Thomas and Henrietta Sutherland Thomas on November 27, 1949, he is survived by his sister, Charlotte; wife, Ellen; daughter, Katie (husband, Erik); and grandson, Everett. 

Roger was raised in Middleboro, MA, a quintessential New England town known for its cranberry bogs. Despite never knowing his father Winthrop, who died when he was an infant, Roger had a very rich childhood. His single mother, Henrietta, influenced him deeply with her determination, independence, work ethic, tenderness, and adventurous spirit. And his loving and protective older sister Charlotte always watched out for him and helped shape some of his dearest memories.

Some of Roger’s favorite moments growing up as a boy were spent fishing at local ponds, painting houses to earn money, and going on extended summer family trips to his mother’s native Nova Scotia and the White Mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. As a teenager, he had a gift for music, and enjoyed singing tenor in the glee club and playing bass saxophone in the jazz band.

As a lover of world heritage and geography, Roger attended Suffolk University in Boston and earned his undergraduate degree in history. Originally planning to continue at Suffolk Law School to become a patent attorney, the Vietnam war called him to duty, and he enlisted in the Air Force as an officer.

Air Force training brought him to Biloxi, Mississippi, where he quickly became friends with others from all backgrounds and was introduced to southern culture, which was fascinatingly different from his own upbringing.  While in the Air Force, he learned and fine-tuned many technical skills and enjoyed days off with his buddies in New Orleans and the beaches of Alabama.  

The war ended, as well as his contract with the Air Force, and he put his in-demand skills to use at the National Security Administration – his first job as a civilian. Moving to Maryland and working for the NSA introduced him to many amazing friends, including one of his best, Tom. Life was grand as a young intelligence careerist in the DMV in the 1970’s. Work was always engaging, and play was prime. For recreation, Rog and Tom slid into home more times than they could count on their NSA softball team, the JAWS. Weekends were spent at the Georgetown nightclubs where he would don his finest baby blue leisure suit and white patent leather platform shoes while boogeying to disco and Motown hits. Abba was an all-time favorite of his. 

Once summer hit, Tom and Roger (now known as “Rog”) would rent co-ed beach houses in Dewey Beach, DE and travel there each weekend. In 1977, Roger met his future wife Ellen at a Mai-Tai-themed house party in Dewey. Ellen scoped Roger out—with his full, wavy blond hair and wide gap-toothed smile—and sent her girlfriend over to tell him she thought he was “as cute as chipmunk.” The two fell in love quickly and married in July of 1978. The inside of Ellen’s wedding band is engraved, “Love, Chipmunk.” Roger and Ellen wasted no time in expanding their family and had their only child, Katie, in May of 1979. The content Thomas family of three settled down in South Arlington, VA in 1980 – where Roger and Ellen would go on to spend 41 years of their lives together.

After years of service with NSA, Roger transitioned to the Central Intelligence Agency. 
With this career move, his childhood dreams of visiting the many lands and cultures in his favorite magazine, National Geographic, came to life as he traveled widely across most continents.

His first decade of service sent him to a magical place he always held dear to his heart: the XXXXXXX region of XXXXX near the snow-capped XXXXXXXX mountains and the XXXXXXXXXXXX desert. Here, he found inspiration and warmth with the XXXXXX people, who shared their homecooked cuisine, sacred places, and cultural events with him—like the skilled horsemen sport of XXXXXXXXX. 

Throughout the 1990’s, Roger would continue to use his skills to serve a variety of U.S. agencies, traveling to places like XXXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX and XXXXXX – sometimes in solitude, and at other times, alongside XXXXXX to accompany XXXXXX on their diplomatic journeys. In the later season of Roger’s career, he enthusiastically mentored a rising generation of professionals and passed the torch of international travel to them while applying his skills stateside. Throughout his service in the field of intelligence, Roger’s work was ever stimulating and full of new training experiences that that kept him on his toes. He embraced each of these opportunities with vigor and excelled in all of them. Along the way, he received numerous achievement awards and was constantly recognized as a brilliant, creative, and likable comrade.

With so many months on the road each year, Roger made sure to make the most of time at home with Ellen and Katie. Their small house was filled with sounds of his favorite vinyl albums spinning, NFL games on TV, and of course, the virtues and lessons that Roger often instilled in Katie. To this day, those who knew him well will still quote his Rogerisms, like “Life is an equation; you get out what you put in.” With Ellen being a schoolteacher, and Katie also in class, whenever there were chances to take family vacations, Roger never skipped them and planned trips out exceptionally – especially those to National and State Parks which offered the best in wildlife sightings and pristine hiking. He spread his love of geography to Katie, as well as his philosophy and practice of living a simple, easy life at home so that enrichment through travel is achievable. As a couple, Roger and Ellen enjoyed many amazing trips and discovered their love for cruising – embarking on multiple journeys throughout the Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mediterranean. 

After Katie graduated from college, she moved back to Arlington and became very close with Roger, establishing an unbreakable bond and unconditional friendship that surpassed their father-daughter relationship. As a young adult, Katie shared many festive and contemplative moments with Roger, celebrating the beauty of life and also navigating the complexity of it together. Some of Roger’s biggest fans were hometown friends and colleagues of Katie’s. In 2012, Katie married her husband Erik and gave birth to Roger’s only grandchild, Everett. Everett quickly became the apple of Roger’s eye. His love and pride for Everett inspired him to cut down on work and eventually retire so that he could spend more time with his grandson. 

Roger and Katie’s bond would stand the test of time throughout his life, and especially in his last couple years as he battled through his difficult cancer journey with Katie fiercely committed to be by his side and support Ellen in caregiving. While these times were tough, they also afforded many precious and priceless moments of togetherness as a family while hearing amazing stories from Roger about this life and what he found important. In these moments Roger delivered riveting history lectures and expounded upon his affection for Presidents George Washington and Jimmy Carter. He did not hold back his emotions and shared that in his life, he felt most lucky to have witnessed man’s journey to the moon, the 1963 March on Washington during the civil rights movement, Barack Obama becoming our nation’s first black president, and both the Red Sox and the Nationals winning the World Series! 

Without realizing it himself, Roger has touched the lives of so many with his knowledge, humor, and easy-going ways. His deep cackle will always echo in our hearts and his experiences, lessons, and impressions leave a lasting mark. Above all, Roger’s well-known value of steadfast devotion, especially in times of sacrifice, will forever live on in his family and the lives of many who were touched by him. Rest in peace Rog. We miss you and we love you! 



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