He said art was a major outlet growing up.
“I was always the kid who could draw,” he said. “I had this talent, and it was the one thing that gave me some kind of dignity in the midst of my personal environment.”
The site says that with these sketches in hand, the two were able to get published “The Artist Guide to Sketching” in 1982, a book that helped land him a job creating background art for animated films.
Also that year, he married his childhood sweetheart, Nanette, to whom he frequently paid tribute to by hiding her name and those of his four daughters within his paintings.
“Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,” Nanette said in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”
There was no immediate word on an official cause of death. Calls to the coroner’s office were not immediately returned.
The newspaper said friends and family on Friday began planning a private service and were weighing a public celebration for a later date.
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