David Bird Thomas

Born on November 17, 1938 in Vancouver to Owen William Bird and Jean Margaret Bird, both deceased, Tom is survived by his wife of 43 years, Carol, son Owen, daughter-in-law Allison, grandson Thomas (Will) and Max, his dog.

Raised in Golden and Vancouver by a father who loved fishing and hunting (and a supportive mother willing to indulge these pursuits), those formative years indelibly affected Tom’s interests. Tom’s family was deeply influenced by his great love for the outdoors and had many fond memories of the ‘one more cast, one more pass, one more flight’ syndrome of tardiness for dinners and appointments over the years. A recent passion for golf was shared with Carol and suited Tom’s social ease and interest in a challenge. And for all of his joy and enthusiasm for the outdoors, Tom’s work life was always encouraged and supported by his family.

Tom was committed to preserving our fish and wildlife heritage for the future from an early age, and to that end he directed his life to the field of fish biology.

After earning a degree in biology from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, and meeting his future wife there, Tom returned to BC with Carol and began his career with the then Federal Fisheries Department in the mid 1960’s. He spent his early years in a host of positions around the province and on the high seas assisting in the research of the movement of our salmon stocks.

Tom then moved into the Habitat Management branch of Fisheries and made many contributions to habitat protection in his years, including playing a pivotal role in the development of Canada’s “no net loss” policy as it pertains to fish habitat. He eventually rose to the position of Director of the Habitat Branch.

In 1989 he was appointed Regional Chief of Recreational Fisheries. Tom, as he had done in the Habitat Branch, built a strong team of dedicated individuals and together they brought recreational fishing into the forefront of the management thinking of DFO.

Under Tom’s guidance, the Sport Fishing Advisory Board expanded from a centralized body to one with bases in the local communities and which allowed full input into the advisory process for anglers from all parts of B.C. Today the SFAB is recognized worldwide as the ultimate in workable advisory processes and one that has credibility with government and at the community level.

In 1997, Tom retired from the DFO but not from his commitment to fish and the fishery, and he took over the reins of the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia as Executive Director. Under his leadership, this organization became a most effective voice in the management of the fishing tourism business in British Columbia and Canada. At the time of his death, Tom was still involved in this organization as a member of the Board of Directors after he stepped down as the Executive Director.

Since 2001, Tom has been Canada’s Recreational Fishing representative on the Fraser Panel of the Pacific Salmon Commission where he has served with distinction.

Acquaintances and co-workers who became lifelong friends will sorely miss this man who was truly “one of a kind”. Tom was a family man and dedicated father, hunting trips to the prairies and fishing Haida Gwaii were favorite family activities. Ready to wet a line at a moment’s notice and to share his love for the outdoors, Tom was always watching the waters off of Bowser for a telling fin or swirl. Movies, sports of all kinds and a love of books filled his time away from the water as well as the golf course, ski hill or work. As “Pop Pop” to Will, Tom began imparting his passion, knowledge and love of the outdoors to his young grandson with walks to the river, tidal pool exploring on the beaches at Bowser and also by simply being with him and laughing together. Most importantly, however, his family and friends admired his unwavering love and affection for his best friend who he affectionately referred to as “Carolena”.

A Celebration of Life is planned for Tom in Bowser in April

Please consider a donation to the Nile Creek Enhancement Society in lieu of flowers.


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