William Michael Thomas
William Michael Thomas was born on September 25th, 1939 in Toronto, Ontario.
He lived much of his life in Ontario and then moved to the Yukon in 2007.
In the comfort of his own home surrounded by love, Bill left us on October 26, 2021.
The youngest of 4, Bill grew up in Toronto with his mother Olympia Maizis and father Tedore Zisovich, both immigrants from Macedonia. He studied at Western and at Queens, earning his Masters in Economics and starting a PhD but chose to leave the program in 1969 to accept a teaching position at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Bill taught there until 1982 when he switched over to Sheridan College, where he remained until retirement in 2008.
Bill was an educator. He was a gentle, focused, wise and compassionate leader and a natural teacher. He had an endless love for reading, research and constant learning. These traits made him exceptional at what he loved to do – engage and provoke others to think, question and take action.
Bill has made lasting contributions to our community by taking an active role in helping to make it a better place, especially for vulnerable and marginalized people. Right until the end, Bill was the Co-Chair of both the Anti-Poverty Coalition which he joined in 2008 and Seniors Action Yukon since 2018. He was a board member of the Options for Independence Society from 2007-2015, a member of the Northern Cities Supportive House Coalition from 2010-2011 and enjoyed working with the Yukon Development and Education Center over the years (now Northern Council for Global Cooperation). Bill had a powerful yet quiet presence and always believed that no one can help anyone from a place of judgement.
Bill led an impressive life and had a positive impact on many, yet if you met him I’m sure he wouldn’t have told you about any of those accomplishments for he was a humble man who did all of that for its own sake and not for any recognition or acknowledgement. What he may have told you about was what he would call his “beautiful family”. He was the proud father to David and Ellen and the loving and generous grandfather to Kendra, Iain, Asa, Thomas, Liam, Elliot and Sophie. And of course Bill was the loving husband to his beloved wife Valerie Lavinia Thomas who we lost this past April. I don’t think Bill quite knew how to live his life without her.
We will remember dad and grandpa as supportive, gentle, honest and kind. He was a dedicated father and grandfather who put in countless hours driving kids to after school practices, bringing little ones to the park and never, ever, missing an opportunity to spoil all of us whenever he could. Bringing us joy brought him joy. It should also be mentioned that he was a darn good dancer with a love for good music.
Bill leaves behind his loving big sister Vicki, late brothers George and Alec, cousin Andy, and his nieces Sara and Julie. He was so proud of them and all that they accomplished, including the beautiful families they built with their spouses Kevin and Martin.
In England, Bill leaves behind his brother in-laws, Haydyn and Arthur and their wonderful families.
And finally, Bill leaves behind long time friends, coworkers and community members who he enjoyed talking to so much and loved all the opportunities he had to work with others to make the community we share the best it can possibly be.
As some of you will know, Bill always signed off with the simple but powerful word:
If you’d like to honour Bill’s memory get involved in your community. As he would say, “have the courage to step through your fears and to keep what’s true in front of you”.
Our family will have a quiet celebration of life for mom and dad in the spring.
We are so grateful to everyone who has reached out to help us, support us and guide us through this loss. Special thanks for support provided by the Palliative Care doctors, Homecare, Hospice Yukon and the respectful service provided by Heritage North Funeral Home.