Former City Manager Richard D. Thomas Passes Away


Arvada, CO . . . . Former City Manager Richard D. Thomas (age 79) passed away March 7, 2010 in Billings, Montana.  Thomas served as City Manager for the City of Arvada from 1966 – 1973.

Thomas was known by many colleagues for his professionalism, integrity, and commitment to succession planning.  One of his greatest passions was mentoring young leaders in the organizations for which he worked.  With the support of Thomas, many went on to become city department heads and city managers.

Thomas hired Arvada’s current City Manager, Craig G. Kocian, as an Administrative Assistant to the City Manager in 1972.

Of his former mentor, Kocian stated: “Dick Thomas was an extraordinary professional—a true visionary. He was a student of and advocate for strategic planning and organizational development well before either was practiced in the public sector. He was a mentor to a very young work force and a trusted advisor to colleagues and councilmembers alike. He and his family were deeply committed to the communities that they served. He was a great person and a true friend.”

Ron Culbertson, retired Arvada Public Works Director, said that Thomas was one of the best city managers that he worked for during his 31 years with the City. “Many of the plans developed under his guidance have now been implemented,” Culbertson stated, “including plans for City Hall, parks, water distribution, and much more. Perhaps more importantly, though, Dick was a very nice and caring person.”

Thomas also served as city manager in Great Falls, Montana; El Dorado, Kansas; Slater, Missouri; and Santa Barbara, California. He was actively involved in the International City Managers Association (ICMA) and received the ICMA Management Innovation Award in 1972.   

He is survived by his wife Lois (Billings, MT), daughter Keely Thayer and son-in-law Ralph Thayer (Spokane, WA), daughter Tenley McCarley and son-in-law Gerald McCarley (Fort Worth, TX), grand-daughters Ashley Martin and Amy Thayer (Spokane, WA), and sisters Pat Brown (Abilene, KS) and Becky Eikleberry (Hutchinson, KS).    

A memorial service will be held at the Lillis Chapel on the campus of St. John's Lutheran Ministries in Billings, Montana on Thursday, March 11 at 11:00 a.m. 

Flowers and cards may be sent to the Smith Funeral Home at 925 South 27th Street, Billings, MT 59101. 

In honor of Mr. Thomas, the family has requested that donations be made to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation at 400 Mercer St., #401, Seattle, WA 98109 or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research at Church Street Station, P.O. Box 780, New York, NY 10008.