Follow us:

Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 7, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Huskies pay tribute to Abner Thomas

Abner Thomas

Abner Thomas

Carol James, widow of legendary Washington coach Don James, was among those to pay tribute to Abner Thomas during a celebration of life service before a packed room at the Don James Center on Thursday afternoon.

James recalled that Thomas, a longtime UW athletic department special assistant who died July 27 at age 86, was the first to greet her and her children at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 1975, shortly after Don James had been hired as the Huskies’ new head coach.

“He said, ‘Follow me.’ And when Abner says, ‘Follow me,’ you follow,” Carol James said. “And that was the first of many, many acts of kindness Abner did for our family for over 40 years.”

Thomas was known as “Big Ab” around the athletic department, where he volunteered and worked for 41 years an operations and recruiting assistant. To generations of players, he was “Uncle Ab,” a father figure, a friend and a mentor.

“Without him, I don’t know where I’d be today,” former UW running back Willis Ray Mackey (1979) said.

Former Huskies assistant coach Skip Hall told the story of how Thomas had helped recruit California running back Doug Martin to UW in the mid-1970s — with a phone call convincing Martins’ parents to keep their son away from the coaches at Cal — and Martin would later become the one to dub Thomas “Uncle Ab.”

“He was my uncle – Uncle Ab,” Martin said. “… Abner, I know you’re up there walking now now with the big dogs: Peter, John, Paul … and DJ (Don James).”

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►