A Glenorchy identity who died aged 96 this week was one of the wider district’s longest-serving and most influential councillors.
Tommy Thomson served on the former Lake County Council for 33 years, including 16 as chair-man, until it merged with Queenstown Borough Council in 1986 to form Queenstown Lakes District Council.
The former Mount Earnslaw Station farmer and trained geologist was best known for championing the opening of the Glenorchy Road in 1962 and other projects, like the Dart River bridge and Kinloch to Greenstone road.
“Superbly backed by his wife Reta, they were just devoted to the Lake County Council,” former Queenstown journalist Irene Adamson, a friend of 55 years, says.
“I’ve seen him come back from Wanaka after a meeting, go off to Glenorchy to feed the dogs and come back to Queenstown the same night to attend the opening of some art exhibition by some struggling artist.
“He was a remarkable man, really.”
Adamson says Tommy was also first chairman of the Clutha-Central Otago United Council, a forerunner of today’s Otago Regional Council – “he pushed to get that community of interest for the whole of that area”.
A highlight came in 1976 when the Thomsons hosted British Conservative Party leader, the late Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis, for a private visit three years before she became Prime Minister.
Former borough and later district mayor Warren Cooper says Tommy had a generous, warm personality.
“I can’t remember an occasion when there was a second of rancour between county and borough during the period of time I was involved.”
A memorial service for Tommy will be held at the Glenorchy Hall this coming Monday at 1.30pm.