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The pipes, the pipes are calling

December 29, 2018 GMT

LEAD — Roger Thomas is retiring after spending the last 24 years servicing the subterranean water systems of the city of Lead.

“The 24 years I’ve put in with this city, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.

Thomas was born in Deadwood and raised in the Black Hills. After graduating from Rapid City High School in 1970, he joined the Marines, honing his skills overseas as an equipment operator. He spent five years as a patrolman in Upton, Wyo., where he met Dru, and shortly after, the two were married, blending their two families.

“Like the Brady Bunch,” Thomas joked. “Three boys and three girls.”


Thomas spent three more years as a patrolman in Deadwood before turning his attention to the streets of Lead in 1995.

“I started working in between, equipment operator and (with) the water guys,” he said.

He quickly put his experience operating heavy equipment to strong use and became a reliable figurehead in Lead whenever a snowstorm reared its ugly head or a pipe needed excavated.

In 2013, Thomas was promoted to public utilities supervisor. Whenever there was a line break or a leaky pipe under the streets, Thomas could be found overseeing the work to get the problem fixed as quickly as possible. He said that the only part of the job he ever lamented was when a break would take him away from family gatherings.

“Seems like there’s always a leak on Christmas or somewhere around the holidays,” he said.

However, hard-pressed as he was to come up with a part of the job he disliked, Thomas was able to quickly name the thing he’d miss the most.

“The people,” he said. “The people in Lead are good folk.”

Thomas said he’s looking forward to retirement and spending more time with his 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He said he and his wife just bought a camper to go with their pontoon boat, so he’ll be spending a lot of time on the water.

“I might even take up fishing,” he said.

At the Dec. 17 Lead City Commission meeting, Commissioner Don Mack read a proclamation from Mayor Ron Everett declaring Dec. 28, 2018, as Roger Thomas Day in the city of Lead.

“Roger is recognized by the utility community and the citizens of Lead as an important person that was always working to improve the city of Lead,” Mack read. “No one cared more for the distribution systems that provided safe, reliable, and consistent drinking water and wastewater management than Roger.”

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