Kip (Kevin) Mitchell Thomet
Kip (Kevin) Mitchell Thomet was born June 4, 1961, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Glen and Sherry Thomet and resided there until he was 12 years old. The family then moved to Eugene, Oregon, where Kip attended Churchill High School and the University of Oregon, where he graduated with a degree in finance and marketing.
Kip came to Alaska in the mid-1980s to work on a floating processor, and soon transitioned to fishing where he long-lined for halibut and black cod in Kodiak, the Gulf and Dutch Harbor. He crabbed the Bering Sea, fished Bristol Bay for salmon and commercial dove for sea-urchins. He also had a stint of gold mining in the Talkeetna mountains.
In March of 1989, Kip was shopping at our local Safeway and saw a young woman sitting with friends at a table, and in passing their eyes met. WOW! A second pass down the aisle, the eyes and the WOW happened again. The young woman — Leigh Gorman — elbowed her friend gesturing if she knew him? And what great fortune! She did! An introduction followed and they were inseparable thereafter, continuing to light up each other's lives for the next 30 years. 1989 was also the summer of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the couple worked on separate vessels participating in oil clean-up and then reunited at summer’s end to travel the Pacific Rim for five months which sparked a never-ending travel lust. Kip convinced Leigh that Kodiak would be a great fit for her to reside in with him. How could she resist?
In 1992, they bought a 38-foot sailboat, where they lived for 10 years in Dog Bay Harbor while both continued fishing and hanging nets. After five years of living aboard, they made their best life decision and in 1997 a maniacal and energetic Levi Mitchell Thomet was born. And how great life was with the three of them. Living on the boat also afforded them to purchase their set net site on the west side of Kodiak Island in 1998. There they spent the next 29 summers salmon fishing and sharing their lifestyle with family, friends and many crew members, who became like family to them. When Levi was 5 and entered kindergarten they were offered a caretaking opportunity during the winter months on 87-acre Holiday Island where they moved, and were about to spend their 18th winter.
Kip participated in the halibut fishery and occasionally went crab fishing but would tell people that he preferred to send Leigh. "It's a lazy man that can't find his wife a crab job" was their running joke. No one could call Kip a lazy man as Leigh always had a job.
Leigh said Kip had that old school animalistic fishing mentality. He was driven and fearless on the water, mustering through big weather that the location of their set net site could bombard them with. He was calm in stressful situations and made sure things got done. He had a fuse a mile long and was rare to anger. He was quite remarkable that way. While Leigh is adventurous and feisty, Kip was calm and intelligent. They were a yin and yang couple, each complimenting the other. Leigh also shared that Kip was a ‘do all’ guy: he could pull anchors, run a skiff and change a diaper in a moment. She was the impetus behind their travel, to check-out, relax and hit the reset button. They packed the kid up and traveled every chance they could, seeking a new country, culture and perspective or wherever those precious airlines miles could take them.
Kip loved his fishing life and the Kodiak community. He had a great sense of justice and political courage. He cared greatly about the state of Alaska, its fisheries and the direction it’s going. He served on various boards; Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association, the Advisory Committee to the Board of Fish, Kodiak Salmon Work Group, Northwest Set-netter’s Association, and attended many of Kodiak’s educational advisory board meetings. He had a decency infused with sincerity that was endearing that gained him respect from others. He paid diligent attention to detail and pursued a high standard for the community.
Kip loved being a father. He loved being Levi’s father. It brought him insurmountable joy. Honesty, work ethic, a presentation of the world and character were important to him to instill in children. He enjoyed his friends’ children and gatherings with them, believing friends are the relatives you make for yourself. He was proud of the person his son has become and looked forward to more time with Levi as an adult. Kip dedicated time volunteering at Levi's track meets but also took a broader position than fatherly pride. He was an advocate for all youth, engaged in fundraising to generate revenue to support kids’ sporting events and to facilitate travel for competitions.
Lastly, Kip adored his wife Leigh. Well, most of the time. They packed quite a lot into 30 years and nine months (to the day). They laughed and lived large. Leigh loved his wit and humor. She just loved HIM. He was her calm in the storm. He understood her energy and restlessness and encouraged her to pursue her adventures in fishing, travel, music and what her next whim might be. They were reasonable with each other. Did they fight? Hell yes! Did Leigh throw a fish or two at Kip? Yep! They were indeed married! Committed! Joined at the hip. 85% harmony. 10% disagreement and 5% eye poking! (Ok, not Kip. He was never an eye poker). They brought so much to each other, they were known as one name KipandLeigh.
Leigh and Levi know they will never be the same as they were before this loss but are ever so much better and grateful for having someone so great to lose.
To those who knew Kip, his quiet integrity and intelligent humor are an unfathomable loss, but his moral code of conduct is a beacon that will prevail.
Kip Thomet is survived by his wife, Leigh and their son Levi. His parents, Glen and Sherry Thomet, brother Kurt and his wife Karen, niece Kayla and nephew Chase Thomet, sister Kathy and husband Emerson Caswell.
He is also survived by a tribe of friends who are inspired by his sterling example of a life well-lived. In Kip's recent words to his son Levi, " Some people go out long past their time, but I’ve had a really great life and have no regrets."
Please join the Thomet family for a potluck at the Afognak Center on Near Island, Jan. 5 from 3 to 6 p.m. to celebrate the life of Kip — Master of get ‘er done!