Phil Thomas was born September 5, 1943 to Percy and Ann Thomas in Lacombe County, Alberta. He passed away unexpectedly, but in peace, on June 13, 2020. He is survived by his loving and very patient wife Eleanor, children Darren (Sorcha) and Lenora (Rick), granddaughters Niamh and Áine, his brothers Percy Jr. (Marilyn), Harry (Donna), Doug, and Mike (Debbie), sisters-in-law Gwen and many nieces, nephews and their children. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother Tom.
As a husband, Phil quickly learned that jewelry was the best way out of a sticky spot (and that pots and pans absolutely did not work), though he rarely needed to resort to that measure. As a father, he spent countless hours coaching soccer, reviewing homework, and encouraging his children to explore and achieve. Phil was a doting grandfather who wanted his granddaughters to see the world and to never stop learning. He made a point to spend as much time with them as he could.
Phil graduated from the Olds College agricultural program and completed his degrees at the University of Alberta. As an agrologist and internationally recognized expert in canola, Phil was a member of the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame for his role as an educator, extension worker, radio commentator, supervisor, author, researcher, consultant, and life-long learner. Having literally written the book on canola (fittingly titled “The Canola Growers Manual”), Phil was known as “Mr. Canola” for his work with thousands of growers in Alberta, across Canada and around the world.
His work and volunteer efforts took him to Australia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland, South Africa and Sri Lanka as a scientific advisor, guest lecturer, seminar leader, and sought-after speaker. As interested in tasting food as helping grow it, Phil sampled fresh tea in Sri Lanka, hot peppers in India, monkey brain soup in China, but ultimately drew the line at the pit-roasted marmot in Mongolia.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada https://www.heartandstroke.ca/ (or the charity of your choice).
As will surprise no one who knew him, Phil wanted a wake (to be scheduled after COVID-19) be held after his interment in the Gilby Cemetery beside his parents.
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