Thomas J. Bergin was born in a private home between Wagner and Lake Andes, S.D., to Thomas P. and Margaret Bergin in 1926. His parents were sharecroppers and moved to various locations in the East River area. The family moved to Sundance, Wyo., in 1949.
His home of 23 years was Hill City, S.D., prior to entering Senior Care in December 2013.
Tom was well known as a “Jack of all trades.” Although resumes were not yet customary, his would astonish any potential manager. Tom was a South Dakota farmer; afterwards, he worked various jobs as a fur trapper, service operator, food store operator, truck driver, feed and mineral traveling salesman, roofer, pool hall operator, uranium prospector, sawmill hand, used car salesman, construction hand, licensed hunting guide, auto mechanic, farm tractor mechanic, electrical contractor, electrician, plumbing, heating, and appliance repairman, tree trimmer, and Forest Service tree planter. He also performed miscellaneous home repairs and lawn, garden, and yard maintenance.
Tom was also employed at the Air Force’s only nuclear plant, located high on a Wyoming mountain near Sundance, Wyo. This plant provided power for radar equipment in the Air Defense Commands electronic warning and Air Defense Services for the Northern Hemisphere.
Once, while Tom was dressing a deer in below-zero weather conditions, Federal Highway Administration surveyors arrived to survey a road. They mutually thought the other was crazy for working in below-freezing temperatures. After this encounter, Tom decided to look into their job and soon began working for the state highway department and then the Federal Highway Administration, traveling to various locations. He worked as a surveyor, road inspector, railroad inspector (Pueblo Colorado Test Track), and electrical power station operator while his parents continued living in Sundance. In his spare time, Tom enjoyed square dancing.
Tom was married late in life to a woman with three children in Pueblo, Colo. From this union, Patrick Robert Bergin was born in 1975. Some years after they divorced, he married Dannette Winfield from Moab, Utah. He retired from the Federal Highway Administration in 1987 with 26 years of service. Tom and Danny lived in Moab for several years before retiring to Hill City in 1990. After seven spinal surgeries in a space of 12 years, Tom was wheelchair-bound and lived at home until he moved into senior care in December 2013.
He is survived by his wife, Danny, of Hill City; and his son, Pat, recently of Crawford, Neb.
A viewing and Rosary were held on May 27 at St. Rose of Lima. The funeral Mass was held on May 28 at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Hill City, S.D. The burial was on Thursday, May 29 at the Hill City Cemetery.
Memorials in Tom’s name may be sent to the Custer Regional Senior Care Center, 1065 Montgomery Street, Custer, SD 57730.
Arrangements were placed in the care of McColley’s Chapel of the Hills in Custer, SD. Written condolences may be made at www.mccolleyschapels.com.