Michael Thomas (Mike or M.D.), 79, of Virden, New Mexico, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends on February 15th.
Mike was born November 26, 1943, to Ivan and Lois Thomas in Colorado but he was raised in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He moved to California in the early 1960s to finish his college education. He graduated from UC Davis with a BS in Animal Science.
After graduation he was able to begin his lifelong passion when he landed his first job as a thoroughbred trainer at Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico. He moved his young family to San Diego and began a 50-year career as a breeder, owner, and trainer of thoroughbred horses. He raced his horses in California, Louisiana, Nevada, and New Mexico, but found his niche racing in the Arizona Fair Circuit. He was very proud of his success in Arizona and of being named Leading Trainer at many of the Arizona Meets.
In the early 1980s Mike went back to school to earn his Elementary Teaching Credential. He began his second career and passion when he was hired to teach second grade in Vista, California, where he taught for almost 25 years. He was beloved by his students and his incredible energy allowed him to teach school all week, load his horses, and then set off for Arizona to race on the weekends and school holidays.
In 2007 Mike and his wife Debbie (Bunny) moved from Fallbrook, California to their horse farm in Virden, New Mexico to build their dream of breeding and racing thoroughbreds in New Mexico. For the next six years Mike also taught third grade in Duncan, Arizona. He retired from teaching in 2013.
Mike is survived by: his wife, Debbie; his children, stepsons, grandchildren, siblings and their families. He is predeceased by: his parents; and his daughter, Megan.
A Celebration of Life is being planned for a later date.