Lowell Thomas Jr.

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Lowell Thomas Jr.
Lowell Thomas, Jr. 1975.jpg
3rd Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
In office
December 2, 1974 – December 4, 1978
Governor Jay Hammond
Preceded by H. A. Boucher
Succeeded by Terry Miller
Member of the Alaska Senate from District E
In office
January 23, 1967 – December 2, 1974
Personal details
Born (1923-10-06)October 6, 1923
London, England
Died October 1, 2016(2016-10-01) (aged 92)
Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Tay
Children Anne, David
Profession Author, film producer, lecturer, bush pilot

Lowell Thomas Jr. (October 6, 1923 – October 1, 2016) was an American politician and film producer who collaborated with his father, the accomplished reporter and author Lowell Thomas, on several projects before becoming an Alaskan State Senator in the early 1970s, and later the third Lieutenant Governor of Alaska (1974–1978). In the 1980s, he owned and operated Talkeetna Air Taxi, an Alaska bush flying service.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

He graduated from the Taft School in 1942 and went on to Dartmouth College, before joining the United States Army Air Corps.[3] In 2011, The Taft School honored him with the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal and Citation of Merit.[4]

Lowell Thomas, Jr. was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi chapter).

He was invited along with his father,[5] Lowell Thomas Sr., by the Tibetan government to make a film there in 1949 with the hope that their reports would help persuade the U.S. government to defend Tibet against the Chinese. The trip lasted 400 days, and the father and son were the last Westerners to reach Lhasa before the Chinese. CBS did not broadcast the resultant film, Expedition to Lhasa, Tibet, until years later, but his book about the expedition, Out of This World, published in 1950 became a bestseller.[6] In 2006, the Dalai Lama bestowed the International Campaign for Tibet's Light of Truth Award on Lowell Jr.[7]

In 1954, Thomas and wife Mary Taylor Pryor, known as "Tay", flew a Cessna 180 around much of the world, logging over 50,000 miles. They wrote about it in their book Our Flight to Adventure.[7]

The Thomas's moved to Alaska in 1958 where they would remain for the remainder of their lives. After his political career, Thomas returned to flying, owning and operating Talkeetna Air Taxi and flying a Helio Courier for research and documentary work as well as flying climbers to and from Denali's Kahiltna Glacier and in the Alaska Range. [7] He remained an active pilot into his 80s.

Among other appearances, in 1958 he appeared as a guest challenger on the TV panel show To Tell the Truth. In 1962, he narrated a children's recording, "The Story of Mr. Globe" which was produced by Replogle Globe, Inc in Chicago, IL.

Long a resident of Alaska, he was known for his interest in the now-defunct Naval Arctic Research Laboratory based in Barrow, Alaska, currently the home of Iḷisaġvik College. Much as his father had done he ventured into the harsh environment of the ice islands where research was done by scientists on the Arctic Ocean and its atmosphere including the Auroras. He published his adventure in National Geographic in 1965 as well as numerous other productions and publications, including a movie on king crab in the Aleutian Islands.[8] In 1995 he was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the National Parks Conservation Foundation, and in 2004 the Alaska Conservation Foundation awarded him with a lifetime achievement award as well.[9]

The Thomases were generous philanthropists, and were involved in the building of the biathlon training facility above Girdwood, the Thomas Planetarium at the Anchorage Museum, and the Thomas Center for Senior Living at St. Mary's Episcopal Church where he and Tay were long-time members and supporters.[7]


External links[edit]

Media related to Lowell Thomas Jr. at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
H. A. Boucher
Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Terry Miller