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Hudson's plumber Roger Evenson to retire

It is the end of an era. Roger Evenson, left, is officially retiring after more than five decades as "Hudson's plumber." His son Rick, right, took over running Evenson Plumbing in 2001 but has decided to close shop and continue working as a independent contractor. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Meg Heaton)

It is an unofficial title but you might call Roger Evenson "Hudson's plumber."

In 1958 Evenson took over Evenson Plumbing following the death of his father Palmer, who started the business ten years earlier. He was 22 years old but had been working for his dad since he was 16. While he turned over the management of the business to his son Rick in 2001, Evenson has remained on the job but said the time is right to retire.

Now 77, Evenson said the physical demands of the job, especially on his knees and hips, figured in his decision but he said he is ready to hang it up.

Hudson was a much smaller town five decades ago when Evenson was getting started, around 4,000 in population but the operation is still pretty much the same. "You need a plumber, you call a plumber," said Evenson. "Codes have changed and there's some technology involved in some things but toilets and faucets are still pretty much the same. Water in - water out and if that's not happening, you call us."

Evenson graduated from Hudson High School in 1954 and married a local girl, Pat Cameron. They have been together for more than 50 years and have four daughters in addition to their son as well as nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They will get more of his attention now that he has retired and he also plans on joining Pat doing volunteer work in the community.

Evenson never wanted to be anything else but a plumber.He said he will miss everything about his job, even the things most people might find less than fun, like exploring the crawl space under the former Dibbo Hotel and lots of other places all over town that the public never sees.

Evenson Plumbing has had a hand in many of Hudson's biggest construction jobs including The Phipps Center for the Arts, the former First National Bank, the former State Bank and the old Hudson Hospital as well as residential work with builders like Herb Cudd, Sam Miller and the Bjornstad brothers. Evenson Plumbing employed as many as 12 licensed plumbers, six residential and six commercial specialists, over the years.

Evenson's standing in the business community is well known, but he also has a reputation as a man in the know when it comes to almost anything that goes on in the area. He said that's what happens when you are a regular at coffee or lunch at places like "the Dibbo, the Sports Club and Dick's." The late Willis Miller, publisher emeritus of the Star-Observer, was among Evenson's closest friends and told reporters that when he (Miller) wasn't available as a source, to seek out Evenson. Evenson said he enjoys making new friends as well but just can't remember names the way he used to.

Said Evenson, "I just want to thank everybody for their patronage over the years.

Evenson's son Rick has decided his dad's retirement is the right time to make some changes himself. Evenson Plumbing will officially close July 31 but he will continue to work as an independent plumbing contractor.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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