Missing Atherton man praised as ‘gentle and kind’ doctor
MISSING Atherton doctor Richard Thomas is being remembered as a gentle, compassionate and dedicated family man with a love of wild and remote destinations.
The 55-year-old Atherton Hospital senior medical officer left home last Tuesday with plans of heading out to the reef from Mourilyan Harbour.
His boat was later found empty and drifting.
An expansive sea and air search encompassing a 75km stretch of coastline failed to find any trace of Dr Thomas and on Monday police announced the search had been suspended.
The father of two teenage children began work at the hospital in 2008 after working in remote Kimberley, Arnhem Land and Solomon Island communities.
Medical superintendent Atherton Hospital Dr Liz Hawkins said Dr Thomas was an incredibly well-respected and thorough health professional.
"He will always go that extra mile for his patients and his team (and) I think his patients would also say that he is gentle and kind," she said.
"He is a private person but a wonderful team member. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time."
A former New Zealand native, Dr Thomas graduated from the University of Auckland before crossing the ditch and meeting partner Kirsten Miller in Cairns in 1997.
Ms Miller, heartbroken by her partner's disappearance, paid tribute to members of the Coconuts Outrigger Canoe Club who raised the alarm and the Innisfail CIB who handled the tragic situation with sensitivity.
Ms Miller said everything her partner did he did with an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm.
A keen fisherman and fanatical mountain bike rider, Dr Thomas is survived by two teenage children and his partner of 23-years.