Ride in Peace: Sturgis rally stalwart Tom Monahan

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Funeral services are set for Tuesday for longtime Sturgis rally fixture Tom Monahan, who died unexpectedly Dec. 9 of a massive heart attack. He was 62.

Monahan designed the original Black Hills Motor Classic logo for the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce when it was running the annual rally. His business was the official printer for the Chamber starting in 1986, and the logo is still used on rally goods today.

“He was the one that created the Sturgis image, when it comes to what you thought about when you came into town. He was the T-shirt guy,” said Brian Niemann, co-owner of Rushmore Photo & Gifts. “He was very good for the community, very good for Sturgis. We were always competitors, but never in a bad way.”

Monahan was born Jan. 4, 1949, in Deadwood, S.D. He attended Sturgis Brown High School and later a vocational school in Colorado. Monahan had been a teacher, builder and a firefighter as well as opening Tom’s Ts in 1986. He taught building design and construction at Western Dakota VoTech for 10 years before joining the staff at Sturgis Brown High School as an art instructor in 1987.

A serial entrepreneur, he was probably best known to rally attendees for his store on Main Street in Sturgis and his screen printing shop on Lazelle St. Over the years, he hired fellow teachers as temps to help run the business during the busy rally weeks.

“The town and the Chamber, we’re going to feel the loss of very good man. He was very influential in this town and this community,” said Chamber director Lisa Weyer. Though Monahan was no longer a member of the Chamber board, she said, “he was still active with Chamber activities and events. Overall, he was the go-to person. If you needed anything, he was someone you could always count on for support. The town is definitely going to miss him.” Though he remained a licensed vendor, Monahan mostly stayed out of the recent dispute over rally trademarks, but was an interested observer. “There’s growing pains on anything that’s starting out new. They’ll get it straightened out,” he said after this year’s rally. “I think we are headed in the right direction but I don’t know when we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Monahan is survived by wife Vicki; a son, Sam, and his wife Jen, and their three children Traeton, Taesha, and Torin; daughter Shanna and her husband, Ethan Dschaak, and their two children, Dalyn and Danicah; and extended family.

Visitation is ongoing until 9 p.m. tonight at the Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis. Funeral services will be at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Grace Lutheran Church in Sturgis. Burial follows at the Bear Butte Cemetery in Sturgis. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.kinkadefunerals.com.

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