KALKASKA — Longtime Kalkaska assistant basketball coach and Blazers fan Royce Thomas passed away Thursday.
Thomas, who was an assistant boys and girls basketball coach over the last 25 years at Kalkaska, would frequently be seen with a big bag of candy at games, throwing treats into the crowd.
Thomas, 61, was founder and part owner of Grand View Golf Course in Kalkaska. He had over 40 years in the oil and gas industry.
“Royce Thomas was arguably the most inspirational person in the history of Kalkaska,” former girls basketball coach David Dalton said. “He was involved in the community, especially the school where he was the only male ever to win Athlete of the Year three times.”
Thomas was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Honor and the Kalkaska High School Hall of Fame.
“If he could not make it to a game the players, fans, coaches and even the referees were disappointed,” Dalton said. “He was beloved by everyone in Northern Michigan.”
Thomas is survived by his wife, Terry; daughters, Kassi (Thomas) Burkam of Kalkaska, Ashley (Matthew) Thomas of Howell; grandchildren, Cecilee and Blakelee Burkam, Caden, Christian and Camden Thomas; parents, Duane and Virginia Thomas, of Kalkaska; and brother, James (Kathy) Thomas of Rexton.
Visitation is Jan. 17 from 4-8 p.m. at Kalkaska Church of Christ. Additional visitation will be held Saturday at New Hope Community Church from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Funeral services begin at 1 p.m. at New Hope. The family requests everyone in attendance to wear Blazer Blue to the service.
Memorials may be given to the Education Fund for Royce Thomas grandchildren. Condolences can be left online at Wolfe-O’Neill Funeral Home (www.wolfeoneill.com).