Obituary: William Daniel Thomas
July 24, 1974 – February 16, 2021
Dan Thomas, 46, of Aspen, Colo., died Feb.16, 2021. William Daniel Thomas was born July 24, 1974, in Salem, Va., the younger child of Dr. William C. and Judy Thomas of Blacksburg, Va. Dan attended Blacksburg schools, the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on May 12, 1996, with a double major in journalism and economics.
A grad-school dropout and lifelong reluctant gypsy newspaperman, Dan worked for the Eden (N.C.) Daily News, the Vail (Colo.) Trail, the Tahoe Daily Tribune in California (twice; once voluntarily), the Summit Daily News in Frisco, Colo., the Rutland (Vt.) Herald, and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times in Colorado (twice). His favorite job, however, was working on Lake Tahoe Action magazine with Tim Parsons.
He fell in love with snowboarding in Vail and also pursued a second job teaching at Breckenridge, Sunlight and Aspen, Colo., as well as Killington, Vt., and Sierra-at-Tahoe, Calif., eventually earning his Level II certification from the American Association of Snowboard Instructors in 2007. He enjoyed working and playing on the mountain, and built some of his best friendships in the snow: riding Sierra-at-Tahoe with “Wire” Steve Baum and Ben Liebenberg; Copper and Vail with Shauna Farnell; Breckenridge with “Angry” Erik Rodgers, the Village People and Jason Starr; Sunlight with Christopher Blaise “Crispy Solo” Polk (R.I.P. 1978-2009); and Aspen with Dr. A. Benjamin Eubanks, Bryan Souders, NashPhil Callihan, Jeff Hooper, Jesse Amsel, Nicholas Livingston Harris and Jeremy Brown.
Dan enjoyed drinking, telling stories, the Denver Broncos, rock ‘n’roll and chasing girls, but he loved his family, his friends, snowboarding and the Carolina Tar Heels.
Survivors include his parents, Bill and Judy Thomas of Blacksburg; a sister, brother-in-law and two nephews, Susan, John, Will and John Harrison “Leon” Thaiss of Greer, S.C.; his Dear Sister, Megan Rentz; and his best friends, Ryan W. McGovern of Greensboro, N.C., Shauna Farnell of Lakewood, Rachel May Martin of Tiny Town, Jesse Oscar Amsel III of Blue Lake, John Philip “NashPhil” Callihan of Tennessee, James C. Murphy of Richmond, Ben Eubanks and Victoria Anne Alexander of Atlanta, Andy Stonehouse of Denver, Abigail Eagye of Snowmass and Kimberly Nicoletti of Silverthorne.
Dan was here for a good time, not a long time; so don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. There will be a celebration of life at a later date. Tell a story, buy your friend a drink — and don’t forget to tip your waitress on the way out.
“It never got weird enough for me.” — Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
“Recognize this as a holy gift, and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing. … Embrace this moment, remember: We are eternal — all this pain is an illusion.” — Maynard James Keenan
To read Dan’s columns that he wrote for Vail Daily, click here.