Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Donald Thomas ’28
Don’s early life was spent mostly in Oakland moving almost annually until they settled near Lake Merritt. Then as high school approached Frances persuaded the family to move to San Francisco so that Don could attend Lowell High school (It also put them closer to Don’s grandparents). In 1926, Frances died and shortly after that Don moved back to Oakland and enrolled at Tech.
At Tech High school Don excelled. He told his children that he had hoped for a career in medicine, and indeed did well at science classes, but clearly his real strength was in writing. He wrote for The Scribe and in his senior year was the editor.
According to most accounts Don started work at the Oakland Tribune even before he left high school. (Probably during summer vacation as he seems to have been very busy at Tech during the school year.) Soon after graduation he became a bona fide Tribune employee, and found himself posted to many different communities in the East Bay. He married Lorraine White, Class of 1927, in 1934, and in 1939, with his wife, a son, and another child on the way, he settled in the Oakland Hills.
During the next twenty seven years Don rose to be political editor and chief editorial writer for the Trib, covering the Sacramento legislature, state and national party conventions, campaigns etc. His editorials were well argued and pithy, and he often also contributed to The Knave (a section of the Sunday Trib).
In the early ‘60s he took a one year leave of absence to consult on Slattery’s people as technical advisor. This was a television series about local politics, and featuring various well known actors. (See Wikipedia). The legislature honored him with a resolution for the realistic and sympathetic portrayal of life in government.
For some time the Los Angeles Times had tried to lure him to Los Angeles, and to leave the Trib. and in 1965 they finally made an offer he couldn’t refuse. Don and Lorraine packed their bags and moved south, where as a senior editorial writer he continued to write telling articles until he retired. After retiring he and Lorraine moved back North to Santa Rosa where, reluctant to give up the newspaper world entirely, Don joined the Sonoma county press club. He was also a long time member of E Clampus Vitus – one of the organizations that puts up plaques on significant buildings, and other historic features. (And has a roaring good time doing it.) They both enjoyed the more rural life of Santa Rosa, and of course played golf, went walking in the hills, etc until health became a problem. Don is survived by two children and two grandchildren, none of whom went into the newspaper business.