David J Thomas
(Arbor Memorial)

The co-founder of a Sidney-based ocean technology company and a popular Island brewery has passed away at 71.

David J. Thomas was an Ontario-born man who established Seakem Oceanography Ltd. in 1974 along with two fellow UBC graduates. The company later restructured as AXYS Group and now operates as AXYS Technologies Inc. in Sidney.

Thomas, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Chemical Oceanography, contributed to Canadian and international environmental projects both as an independent scientist and through his work at AXYS.

He also made his mark on Vancouver Island by volunteering on the boards of local organizations like Music by the Sea, and by co-founding Lighthouse Brewing Company in 1998.

In a post on the Lighthouse Brewing Company Facebook Page, the brewery said Thomas’ passing was an “incomprehensible loss” and asked that people wishing to offer condolences consider donating to the Inuvik food bank.

Thomas passed away on August 22, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Mary Beeching, his brother Peter Jr., his children Ben (Paula) and Larissa (Randy), and his granddaughter, Everly “Rosie.”

He was memorialized in a ceremony on Saturday that was made available to the public through a live-stream, due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

In an obituary posted to the Arbor Memorial website, Thomas’ children remembered him as a “brilliant, eccentric and accomplished scientist” and loving father.

“He had the ability to retain and recall the most random pieces of information, and could hold a conversation with anyone, on literally any topic,” they wrote.

“Dad’s thoughtfulness and generosity will inspire us all to be better people, to enjoy the simple things in life, and the importance of doing the right thing.”