The Missionary Who Was Told By The Pygmies They Killed A “Dinosaur” Has Died
Within days of the December 19, 2005, passing of the famed hunter of Mokele-mbember, Herman Regusters, I am sad to learn another important figure in the quest for the alleged “living dinosaurs” of Africa has died.
Reverend Eugene P. Thomas, who first told James Powell and Dr. Roy Mackal that pygmies in 1959 said they had killed a Mokele-mbembe, has passed away a mere two days after Regusters’ death.
Rev. Eugene Thomas and Sandy Thomas in 1986. Photograph courtesy of William Gibbons.
Mokele-mbembe hunter and chronicler, Dr. William Gibbons sends along this news:
I read the obituary on Herman Regusters. I am heartbroken to inform you that retired Congo missionary, Eugene P. Thomas of Canton Ohio, died on Wednesday December 21, 2005 at the age of 78. He was diagnosed with carcinoma cancer of the bones and lungs just two months before his passing. He and his wife Sandy pioneered the missionary work in the northern Congo (Impfondo) where they established the first non-catholic church, a school and a clinic. He greatly assisted several Mokele-mbembe expeditions including Roy Mackal in 1979 & 1980, and myself in 1985 and 1992. Gene had two close encounters with Mokele-mbembe in 1979 and 1989, which will be detailed in my forthcoming book on Mokele-mbembe. Sandy Thomas wrote a book entitled Beyond Jungle Walls, detailing their 47 year ministry in the Congo.
William J. Gibbons further writes in his online article, “In Search Of the Congo Dinosaur,” how critical Reverend Thomas was to the modern search for Mokele-mbembe:
In 1979, Mackal and Powell traveled to the People’s Republic of the Congo to investigate Mokele-mbembe activity which Mackal believed would be centered in the Likouala region, a huge area of seasonally inundated swamps that was left blank on most maps. In the northern town of Impfondo, situated on the Ubangi river, Mackal and Powell met with the Reverend Eugene Thomas from Ohio, a missionary who had served in the Congo since 1955. Thomas had heard many stories about Mokele-mbembe and sent out for firsthand eyewitnesses who had seen the monster. At first Mackal was reluctant to believe that he was on the trail of a living dinosaur. Yet each witness was absolutely emphatic that the illustrations of the apatasaurus and diplodocus in Mackal’s book on dinosaurs were dead ringers for the Mokele-mbembe.
Roy Mackal writes about his information from Reverend Eugene Thomas and the pygmies in his book, A Living Dinosaur? In Search of Mokele-Mbembe. Mackal directly acknowledges that his “expedition would not have succeeded” without the assistance and information he gained from Pastor Thomas. Nearly a third of Mackal’s text contains mentions of the contact and expedition help he received from Thomas.
When Bill Gibbons journeyed to Africa in quest of this cryptid himself, he too contacted Eugene Thomas and then remained friends with him for decades. Gibbons writes:
My own (first) expedition to the Congo took place from November 1985 to May 1986. Although we were delayed in Brazzaville for several weeks by the slow-motion bureaucratic system, Pastor Thomas graciously used his contacts in the various government departments to help us get underway. We eventually reached Lake Tele after a challenging five-day slog through the dense forest…
Reverend Gene Thomas told Dr. Kent Hovind years later that Thomas had heard Mokele-mbembe in the night, “roaring like giant lizards,” in the swamps.
Another significant historical figure in the search for Mokele-mbembe has died, and it is sorrowful news, indeed, coming on the heels of the passing of Regusters. The living legacies of seekers of Mokele-mbembe, the supposedly living dinosaurs of Africa, are slipping away. Is there a message here?