Les Thomas received a standing ovation from his fellow Kent City Council members as he returned to his seat for the first time in about four months after a long illness.
“I want to take a moment to recognize Councilmember Thomas,” Council President Bill Boyce said at the start of Tuesday’s council meeting. “As most of you know, he’s been out for quite some time. He had some medical issues and he was able to plow through those. I’m so excited to see him back. We haven’t been a team since he’s been gone.
“He’s been on this council over 15-plus years and to have him back makes us feel whole again, so will you all rise and let’s welcome him back.”
Thomas, 72, said he suffered a cut on a big toe from a seashell during a February trip to the Caribbean. The toe became infected. Doctors removed a vein from Thomas’ right leg to put in his left leg in an effort to stop the bacterial infection. But the surgery didn’t work. Doctors amputated Thomas’s left leg 3 inches below the knee in early July. Thomas spent most of his recovery time at a Federal Way rehab center.
“We are very, very happy to have you back,” Mayor Dana Ralph said. “Like Council President Boyce said, the family’s back together, the gang’s all here – however you want to put it – there’s been something missing and we’re really glad you’re here.”
“Probably humor,” Thomas responded to Ralph about what’s been missing.
Thomas attended a workshop in June but last attended a regular council meeting in April. He missed eight meetings during his illness. The council meets twice a month.
“I want to publicly thank you guys – not just all of you here but those watching on TV – for the amount of prayers and thoughts that you sent my way to me and my wife because we both had surgeries this summer,” said Thomas, who sat in a wheelchair at the meeting. “It’s been a difficult summer, but as Bill said, we are kind of plowing through it.
“I must say, if you lose a leg it’s bit awkward. And it’s really bad that I can’t get half-off shoe sales. However, my pair of socks last twice as long.”
“Now you all know why we we’ve missed Councilmember Thomas,” Ralph responded. “Glad he’s back along with his sense of humor.”