Former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Jack Ward Thomas died on May 26 following a long bout with cancer.

Thomas was remembered here in Missoula by Perry Brown, Provost at the University of Montana.

"Jack was a giant in the conservation arena," Brown said. "He was the world's expert on elk, he developed a long research career before he became Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and then following that, he became the Boone and Crockett Professor at the University of Montana, where he served for 10 years.He helped innumerable grad students to get their careers started and provided inside information that you never get from somebody that hasn't been there themselves."

Spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mark Holyoak remembered Thomas as a true friend to the cause of conservation.

"He was a life member of the RMEF, a past member of the board of directors, and in the very early days, he helped provide direction to the founders of the organization, encouraging them to stick with the land and stick with conservation, looking out for animals, so his influence for us spans more than three decades."

Jack Ward Thomas received an honorary doctorate from the University of Montana during commencement in May, but was too ill to receive the degree in person.