Friends, family hold parade for retiring SPEC lineman Ira Pickard

Parade for retiring SPEC lineman Ira Pickard

BUFFALO SPRINGS LAKE, Texas (KCBD) - After 43 years of working power lines, Ira Pickard is calling it a career.

“Ira spent 43 years with South Plains Electric Co-Op. While we’re home safe in bed, these linemen are getting us electricity back,” Kirkpatrick said. “Firemen get kudos all the time, (along with) police officers, EMS, health care workers. But, people that keep us comfortable in our lives seldom get any recognition.”

For Ira’s friends and family, a simple goodbye wasn’t enough. Instead, his girlfriend reached out to those closest to him to set up a socially-distanced parade that circled around Buffalo Springs Lake. For Pickard, it was a goodbye trip in a fire engine loaned out by his friend, Lubbock Fire Rescue’s Eddie Kirkpatrick.

The event came as a surprise to Pickard.

“If I had known ya’ll we’re going to be here, I’d have fixed my hair!,” he joked. “I have a bad hairdo now!”

His neighbors in the eastern part of Lubbock County also reached out to express their appreciation.

“Besides being retired from South Plains Electric, he’s been the one out here everybody calls when we’ve had some kind of an electrical problem.”

Early on in his career, Pickard paid his dues reading meters, before becoming a service foreman. With the job came a fair share of hazards.

“Probably the most intense situation was three years in as an apprentice lineman,” he said. “I was up on a pole, and I disconnected a primary line which was 7,200 volts in it. My knee came in contact with that, and they had to post-op rescue me there.”

From there, Pickard went on to serve for four more decades.

“It didn’t stop me whatsoever. It’s a good job, good career. There’s lots of linemen retiring, and it’s a good career for the young linemen to get into now, too.”

The retiring electrician said he and the guys refer to themselves as “stormtroopers,” and in the event of a national crisis, he says he would be the first to volunteer. However, at this point, he has plans to see parts of the state and country he has never seen.

“I’m going to travel until I run out of breath and money, and I hope do both at the same time.”

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