Richard Thies Bio
I was born and raised in Sauk County, Wisconsin, graduating from Reedsburg High School in 1959. I attended Wisconsin State University and Institute of Technology at Platteville (Now UW-Platteville), graduating in 1963 with a BS in Education. I put myself thru school by painting summers, weekends, and during school breaks with my dad.
My educational experience, and ultimately my career choice, changed when the Industrial Arts program was enhanced in 1961, allowing a 60 credit major with no minor. I choose to specialize in Architectural Design, Metal Fabrication, and Wood Technology. My specialty areas, plus the accounting and surveying courses I took from the Engineering School, helped me tremendously in the career I eventually selected.
Before graduation, I had several job interviews. Fortunately, Ford Motor Company hired the two candidates who they ranked ahead of me (Ford laid off a lot of employees 10 years later). I wanted to go to the Air Force Officer Candidate School, passing the test my senior year. An unplanned mid-summer job interview resulted in a job offer at Madison Gas & Electric Company (MG&E).
My first position was a low paying Engineering Assistant job, not knowing anything about the natural gas industry. I worked at MG&E for 34 plus years. By the time the Air Force contacted me, I was convinced MG&E was the place for me. Those 34 years were a continuous learning experience. With the help of a good mentor and having great people working with me, I managed to grow in my job, being Vice President-Gas Operations when I accepted early retirement at age 56 in 1996. MG&E was a great company to work for and is one of the premier dividend-paying combination utilities in the country.
The best thing that happened to me was meeting and marrying the love of my life, Dinah. We are the proud parents of two daughters, Deb (husband Tom) Hill, Raleigh, N.C., and Darcy (husband Ben) Rosenthal and two grandchildren, Isabelle, and Jacob, Scotia N.Y.
After retirement from MG&E, I worked part-time to more than full time for Inter Con Construction from 1998 to 2006. As a utility contractor doing natural gas system installations, Inter Con was required by new federal regulations to develop and implement a qualification program covering their employees who performed construction, operations, or maintenance functions on natural gas piping systems up to the gas meter outlet. I developed their qualification plan, and again with help from some great people, made good use of my education and prior work experience.
Dinah and I discovered The Villages through Madison friends Ross and Judy Zanto, multiple year Villages renters. They got us to visit for a day when we were in Tampa for a bowl game. We took the trolley tour, saw a movie at Lake Sumter Landing, and had dinner at The Lighthouse. When Dinah retired in 2007, we rented a patio villa for the month of March, were at one of the Squares almost every night, and decided we wanted to return. In 2009 we helped out the Zanto’s by renting their villa for two months and made a down payment on our home in the Village of Hemingway before heading to Madison. We moved to The Villages in October to experience our first winter. We finally sold our Madison home in 2012.
In Wisconsin, I was a golfer, bowler, and fisherman (get me started and I have many fish stories to tell) and diehard Badger and Packer fan. We had UW season Football and Hockey tickets. We still have the football tickets and try to attend the September home games, selected road games, and as many Bowl games as feasible. We know the Rose Bowl well, having been there six times, 3 wins; 3 losses. I still believe that in Russell Wilson’s year, if he had enough time to run one more play, Wisconsin would have beaten Oregon. We developed a taste for being spectators at Pro Golf tournaments, spending entire weeks at tournaments to get the best experience. Whistling Straights, Cog Hill, Medinah, Oakmont, Congressional, and Pinehurst, as well as Bay Hill, are all courses we now know well when watching the pro’s hit their shots on TV. Attending the President’s Cup at Murfield Village in 2013 was a natural fit with our already planned Wisconsin/Ohio State football game trip to Columbus.
Life would not be complete without doing your best to help others in need. I joined the Sertoma Club of Madison in the mid-1980’s, and spent many years helping people with speech and hearing disabilities in both a volunteer and leadership role. Sertoma members in Wisconsin sponsored hearing screening for attendees at Wisconsin’s Farm Progress Days over many years with volunteer assistance from students and staff at UW-Madison. I also got involved at a food pantry in Madison, just when the recession hit in 2007. Here in The Villages, our volunteering with the Seeds of Hope was a natural fit for both of us.
In The Villages, I golf 3-4 times a week. I moved up to the Green tees on championship courses last spring, shot my historical low round, 77 (not quite an age breaker), and got to write (1) on my scorecard for the first time on August 15th at Kenya (#4). If I can do it, there is still hope for other golfers; hit it often, get it to the hole, and hope for a little luck. I have not been bowling or fishing here in The Villages but enjoy singing in 2 choirs at Hope Lutheran Church, Brotherhood of Harmony and Voices of Hope. I hope to be singing with the village-wide Brothers in Song in 2017.
Do I miss Wisconsin? I miss being able to wander into my backyard and pick fresh raspberries from mid-summer until a hard freeze. I miss having known and stable health care professionals available. We now live in a great neighborhood in The Villages. We belong to a great church, Hope Lutheran, and are enjoying ourselves. Will the grandkids or family ties call us back North? We will have to wait and see.