Ex-Alaska official, son of broadcaster, dies

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – Lowell Thomas Jr., a former Alaska lieutenant governor, author, adventurer, glacier pilot and son of the legendary broadcaster, has died.

His daughter, Anne Donaghy, confirmed his death Monday to The Associated Press. She said her father died Saturday at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, days shy of his 93rd birthday.

He was born in London on Oct. 6, 1923, to Lowell Jackson Thomas and Frances Ryan Thomas. His early childhood was spent in New York City, where his father had a nightly national radio broadcast.

He was a flight instructor during World War II, and flying and skiing became lifelong passions, according to his obituary. He and his wife, Tay, flew across the world and chronicled their work in articles and a book.

They visited Alaska in 1958, and fell in love with it, moving there two years later. Donaghy said in Alaska, her father found his own identity, outside the large shadows cast by his father – a World War I war correspondent whose time with Col. T.E. Lawrence was the basis for the bestselling book “With Lawrence in Arabia.”

“He was so different from his father. But I think that, in all fairness, I think he would not mind me saying that that was part of why he came to Alaska. He and my Mom, they put some actual miles between themselves and their parents on the East Coast,” Donaghy said.

Thomas Jr.’s adventurous side drew him to Alaska, but he also believed in being a public servant, she said.