Remembering Earl Calvin Padgett, Jr.
A former president of our Round Table, Cal Padgett of Kansas City MO passed away on May 21, 2023 at the age of 93. Cal was born in 1929. He graduated from Williams College, in Williamstown MA in 1952 with a degree in History. After college, he served in the U.S. Army. Cal was president of Padgett Instruments, a company providing plastic surgery instrumentation to plastic and reconstructive surgeons.
According to his obituary, Cal was an avid reader and historian for much of his life. Cal was interested in Civil War, WWI, and WWII military history. He was a charter member of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City in 1958 and served as president in 1969.
The following information was provided by Round Table member Dan Smith, Chairman of the Monnett Battle of Westport Fund:
Cal was indeed a stalwart member of both the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City and the Monnett Battle of Westport Fund. He served as the vice-president of the Fund for a number of years when it was first organized in 1975. He was an important financial supporter for the completion of the Battle of Westport self-guided auto tour. In 1977, he donated the funds for the installation for two of the Fund's markers placed on the tour route:
- Marker 15 Harrisonville Road: Located at Prospect and Meyer Boulevard on the route of the Confederate withdrawal from Westport.
- Marker 21 New Santa Fe Road: Located at 98th Terrace and Grandview Road marking the junction with the Santa Fe Trail, which the Confederate Army took on its withdrawal at the conclusion of the Battle of Westport.
His great generosity helped enormously in the successful completion of the project that has endured for nearly five decades.
A memorial service was held Saturday, June 3 rd at 10:30 a.m. at Country Club Christian Church, located at 61st and Ward Parkway, Kansas City MO. Cal will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
Here is a link to his obituary.
Remembering Rev. Dr. Herman Hattaway
Rev. Dr. Herman Hattaway passed away at the age of 84 on March 31, 2023. For 34 years he was a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He was a Civil War historian and wrote several books about the Civil War including How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War, Why the South Lost the Civil War, and Shades of Blue and Gray: An Introductory History of the Civil War. Dr. Hattaway was also a speaker at many Civil War Round Table meetings. Our Round Table presented Dr. Hattaway with the Harry S. Truman Award in 1986. He was a mentor to other Civil War historians including Dr. William Garrett Piston and Dr. Ethan Rafuse, two of our speakers this year. Dr. Hattaway was a credit to his profession and will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.
Follow this link for an obituary of Dr. Hattaway.
Remembering Susan Keipp
Susan served as the treasurer of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City since 2015.
Our president, Rev. Dave Holloway issued the following letter on January 31st:
To All Members of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City:
It is with great sadness that I inform you that our Treasurer and longtime stalwart member of the Round Table, Susan Keipp, passed away peacefully on Monday, January 30th. Susan died suddenly at home in her sleep. She was 82 years old. As many of you were aware, Susan had been experiencing multiple health issues over the past year or so, but her passing was unexpected.
We are still developing information and will provide more details as we learn them. In the meantime, please keep Susan's family in your prayers.
Rev. Dave Holloway
Several members of the Round Table wrote some beautiful tributes in remembrance of Susan:
Such saddening news. Susan was a remarkable woman - friendly, kind, and caring. Her loss will be felt by all the members of the Round Table and I’m glad I had the opportunity to know her. May she rest in peace!
Dr. Dan Cudnik
Thank you for sharing this sad news. Susan was always very helpful to the Round Table.
Dave, I am shocked. I did not know that Susan was that ill. I am very sad on hearing this information. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do for her family.
What a wonderful Lady!
Susan was the first person I had contact with when I joined the Round Table in 2015. No one was sponsoring me; I merely found an email address and joined. I asked her what the dress code was for the monthly dinners. I loved her reply: "The Gentlemen usually wear a jacket and tie.” She was the first person to render a cheery "Hello Phil!" when I'd walk through the door for dinner each month.
On my very last day as a resident of Leavenworth, I picked up my wife who was just finishing HER last day at her job in town and we headed north to Minnesota to our new home. Susan called me while we were on 1-35. It was deadline day to RSVP for that month's dinner and I hadn't responded yet. "You are usually one of the first to respond Phil, and you haven't missed a dinner in over two years! I was wondering if everything is OK with you?" I laughed out loud but thanked her for her concern. I said I'd always remain a member, but won't be making many dinners in the future!
I will always remember her caring, cheerful, and thoughtful attitude. It was always a pleasure to chat with her each month. May she Rest in Peace in the hands of God!
Sadly, Phil Baker
So sorry to learn this. I am so grateful she did all of the traveling, as she enjoyed that so much. Thanks to you and Father Dave for the notification.
Susan Keipp loved the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City. She considered many of you as her friends. She did an excellent job as treasurer. What you may or may not know is that Susan worked for an accountant preparing tax returns. Every year, she prepared well over 100 tax returns for our veterans free of charge. It was her way of giving back. In her free time, she liked to travel to Europe, research her German ancestors, sing with her Sweet Adelines group, and sing in the Church of the Resurrection’s Christmas program. Susan will be missed by her friends and family.
Here's a link to Susan's biography.
Remembering Austin H. Turney
Austin Henry Turney died in hospice care in Lawrence, Kansas on July 13, 2022. Austin was bom in Lawrence, Kansas February 25, 1929 the son of Austin Henry Turney and Emily Payetta Turney. He grew up in Lawrence and graduated from University High School, Lawrence and the University of Kansas with a BS in Business.
He served in the US Army 28th Division during the Korean War period January 1951 to December 1952. The 28th Division did occupation duty in Bavaria, Germany.
After Army service, he worked as an accountant for Price Waterhouse in Kansas City, Missouri and then in New York City, NY. In New York City, he met and later married on June 10, 1961 his wife of 55 years, Ruth Anderson Turney. Ruth passed away on October 9, 2016 and they are both survived by a son, Austin Charles Turney of Lawrence, KS.
He was active in the Episcopal Church for more than 65 years from Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City through Trinity Episcopal Church, Newtown, CT and since retirement returning to Trinity Episcopal, Lawrence, KS. He served as vestry member and senior warden of Trinity Church, Newtown, on several committees and the executive council of the Diocese of Connecticut, as deputy to the 71st General Convention and later on the vestry of Trinity Church, Lawrence. He was a lay Eucharistic minister.
As owner of the 1863 Samuel Riggs House in Lawrence he enjoyed telling 3rd graders each spring the story of the Riggs House, Judge Samuel Riggs and their connections with Quantrill’s raid.
As a student of military history he made, with his wife, many tours to sites involved with the Civil War, and the conflicts during the frontier expansion of the United States. They also studied conflicts and traveled in Western Europe and the Caribbean in company with a British military history tour company.
He had a life-long interest in railroads, was a member of and attended several national conferences of National Railway Historical Society.
He lived during 40 years of his working career in the New York City area and then in Danbury and Bethel, CT. Starting as an accountant (CPA) with Price Waterhouse. He continued on in business as Treasurer of the Kanthal Corporation, Danbury, CT, Business Manager of the Redding-Easton public school system in CT and with the Peale Center for Christian Living, Pawling NY.
He retired with Ruth in 1994 returning to Lawrence, KS and the family’s historic property. He was active in the church and many groups in Lawrence, for example as a reader at Kansas Audio-Reader from 1995 to 2020 where he enjoyed reading regional newspapers to a live audience. He was elected to the board of Lawrence Public Schools and served on the school board from 1997 to 2005 and was President for 2 years. He felt the school board was an exceptionally valuable and rewarding nearly full-time unpaid job and retained a strong continuing interest and activities regarding Lawrence schools since then.
Survivors include his son in Lawrence, KS as well as family in Yakima, WA, California and Georgia.
Memorials may be made in his name to the Nature Conservancy, Kansas Chapter, Topeka, KS or the Douglas County Community Foundation, Lawrence, KS. and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.
A memorial service was held at Trinity Episcopal Church, Lawrence, KS.
Remembering Lila Aamodt
Lila Meroe Williams Aamodt, aged 83, died of pancreatic cancer on November 30, 2022. She was born August 12, 1939, in Rochester, MN, the second of five children of Marvin M. D. Williams and Orpha S. Williams.
Early life interests were music and science. Piano was her favorite instrument and her siblings remember her playing at home a lot. She was the soloist for a piano concerto during high school with the local orchestra. She also played violin and oboe. In college, she loved the challenge of learning to play the organ.
Science was a second interest as a young woman. She graduated in 1961 from Beloit College with a B.S. in biology and chemistry. In 1967 Lila earned a Ph.D. in microbiology at Yale University where she met and married Gary Aamodt in 1964. Her wedding present was a harpsichord. Gary and a friend founded A-R Editions to publish newly discovered historical musicology. Lila joined as co-owner when the company moved to Madison, WI, and was manager of its Recent Researches music series. In Madison, she played the harpsichord and recorder with a local Renaissance group, raised her two children, and was active as a leader and choir member at Luther Memorial Church where she made many lifelong friends.
She was always learning. In 1992 she and Gary moved to Eden Prairie, and Lila took an extensive two year course and became a docent for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where she volunteered for 20 years. Later, as Lila worked through a divorce, she pursued new interests including dogsledding, cross country skiing, singing, swimming, stand up paddling and bicycling. After she moved to Kansas, she learned to play the ukulele and handbells.
In 2012 Lila moved to Mission, KS, to be near her daughter Carla’s family and explore new horizons. She volunteered at the University of Kansas hospital as a standardized patient and at Saint Luke’s Hospital as a patient visitor. She took an interest in family genealogy and learned that several relatives had been in the Civil War.
Learning her family’s history sparked an interest in the American Civil War and the history of the American West in general. She became active in the Civil War Roundtable and took part in a new living history project in Independence, MO, portraying life in 1849. She loved learning about the historical emigrant trails that started in Independence. She served leadership roles in the Trails Head Chapter of the national Oregon California Trails Association (OCTA) and in the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association (KCAHTA) and received awards for her work.
Lila developed a love of travel that continued throughout her life. She was extremely well traveled and enjoyed trips with her husband throughout the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, Peru, Morocco, Russia, India, Kenya, and China. They learned scuba diving and especially enjoyed that sport in Bonaire She continued traveling after the divorce, and traveled to Mongolia, Costa Rica, Botswana/Zimbabwe, six US river cruises, and five national parks in Utah. More recently, she and her daughter, Carla, hiked at Rocky Mountain National Park (2019) and snowshoed at Yellowstone National Park (2022).
At the 18 October 2022 meeting of KCAHTA's Executive Committee the following commendation was presented to Lila:
Whereby, Lila Aamodt, as a devoted member of the Executive Committee of the Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association, is duly recognized for her years of dedication and service as Chair of the Membership Committee; for her support of KCAHTA’s extensive programming and community outreach, and leadership as President of the Trails Head Chapter of OCTA . Her effective promotion of new and current memberships, reporting, and engagement in KCAHTA activities has been with due wisdom and perseverance. Through Lila’s initiative, diligence, and grace, the membership and mission of KCAHTA have been well sustained.
Lila's daily presence in our lives shall continue with reflections of her intellect, leadership qualities, care for her fellow beings, and depth of Godly faith. Truly an extraordinary person that we all would claim as dear friend.
Respectfully, Gary L. Hicks, President. Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association (www.kcahta.org)
Remembering Judge John F. Davis
Judge James F. Davis passed away on Sunday, November 13th, surrounded by family, after succumbing to injuries sustained in an accident. He was 74 years old. Judge Davis served as president of our Round Table in 1984.
Jim was bom in 1948 in Kansas City KS. He attended the University of Kansas and earned his Bachelor's degree, MBA, and Juris Doctorate making law review during law school. He was a partner with Lewis Rice & Fingersh LLC and then served as a Kansas District Court judge for 26 years in Johnson County. Jim served as a platoon leader in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.
Jim is survived by his wife, Gwen, of 35 years, his four children, and ten grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and associates.
Remembering John Charles Byram, Jr.
We were very sad to hear that Round Table member John Charles Byram, Jr passed away on October 30, 2022. John was descended from the Byrams after whom Byram's Ford on the Blue River was named. For the past several years, John was active in helping preserve the Big Blue Battlefield. We will miss him.
The following is taken from John's obituary:
John was born July 5, 1942 in Atchison, Kansas. His parents, John Byram and Jane Price Byram, predeceased him. His family moved to Kansas City when John was 3 years old. He graduated from the Pembroke Country Day School (present day Pembroke Hill School), earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, and then joined the Army Reserves. He started his career in the mortgage banking business. Thereafter, he became a commercial real estate appraiser. He earned his MAI designation (Member of Appraisal Institute) and belonged to the Society of Real Estate Appraisers (SREA). He ultimately pursued and expanded the family business in commercial real estate by managing, assembling, and developing commercial properties.
John was a board member of the Shawnee Mission Indian Historical Society. He was a Civil War buff and attended meetings of the Civil War Roundtable. He was a member of Milburn Country Club and a former member of the Rotary Club, Porsche Club, Safari Club and Quail Unlimited.
John was an avid hobbyist; his hobbies included race car driving, hunting (including North American big game hunting), photography, and woodworking among others.
He was predeceased by his sister, Sarah Fawcett, and is survived by his sister, Katherine Bryan, and several nieces and nephews. He leaves behind his wife, Joyce, of 53 years. For the past 20 years, they resided in the home his parents built on a lake in Leawood that he loved. He also leaves behind his four children, John, Ellie, Leslie and Laura, their spouses, his grandchildren, and his dog Ida. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. He was devoted to his family who loved him very much and will miss him dearly. He was there for all of his children and grandchildren and attended all of their activities.
Remembering Jim Voelker
Jim Voelker, a long-time member of our Round Table passed away on July 4th at the age of 76. Funeral Mass was held on July 8th at Holy Spirit Catholic Church and burial was at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Raytown MO.
According to his obituary, Jim was bom on May 15, 1946 in Kansas City MO. He graduated from De LaSalle High School in 1964 and from Rockhurst University in 1969. He worked for the Kansas City MO school district as a history teacher and coach for both boys and girls sports for 45 years. He was a member of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church for 35 years. Through Jim's involvement and leadership in high school, youth sports, and Boy Scouts, he had a profound impact on many young people's lives and development.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife of 39 years, Paula Voelker. Jim and his wife had two sons and a daughter and three grandchildren. Jim will be greatly missed by his family as well as the members of our Round Table.
Remembering Roger Stanton
We are saddened to hear of the passing of Round Table member, Roger Stanton, who died unexpectedly on March 4, 2022. We were always thrilled to talk with Roger about the Civil War. We will miss Roger's spirited bidding for books during the Sergeant Major's book auction. A Remembrance Service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at Old Mission United Methodist Church, 5519 State Park Rd. Fairway, KS. Reception to follow. Here is an edited version of Roger's obituary.
Roger Duane Stanton. 83, of Prairie Village, Kansas, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 4, 2022, at St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. He was born in Marysville, Kansas on October 4, 1938, the only child of George W. Stanton and Helen Viola Peterson Stanton.
Except for the few years they lived in Kansas City, Kansas during WW II while his father was working for North American Aviation, he grew up in Marysville, Kansas. His father started and owned Stanton Hardware for many years, and Roger worked summers delivering stoves and refrigerators to customers and sometimes baled hay for local farmers.
In high school, Class of 1956, he played football for the Marysville Bulldogs and played and coached baseball in the summer leagues. He attended the University of Kansas, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960 and was chosen as one of ten out-standing seniors. He graduated from the KU Law School Class of ‘63 where he was an Editor on the KU Law Review and was elected as VP of his Law Class and later served as President.
Married Judy Duncan in 1962 and they celebrated 60 years of marriage on January 27, 2022. Following law school he joined the Kansas City, Kansas Law Firm of Stanley, Schroeder, Weeks. Thomas and Lysaught where he served on the Executive Committee and on the Board of Directors. He became a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1981. Later he became a partner with the KC Law firm of Stinson Mag & Fizzel serving as chairman of products practice group and as a member of the Board of Directors. In 1997-2005 he was a partner in the litigation practice of Berkowitz, Feldmiller. Stanton, Brandt, Williams and Shaw in Prairie Village Kansas. From 2005 until he retired in 2013, he had his own private practice.
He reveled in preparing and trying lawsuits all over the country, especially representing the underdog. He was a member of many organizations affiliated with his expertise in the law among them: the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1981 where he served as state chairman and on the board of directors; the Earl E. O’Connor American Inn of Court; Co-chairman of the Civil Justice Reform Act Committee for the United States District Court for the District of Kansas; served as President of the Johnson County Bar Foundation and the Kansas Association of Defense Counsel. He was state co-chairman of the Defense Research Institute for 11 years and on the board of the Historical Society of the Tenth Judicial Circuit. He served as president of the Johnson County Bar and usually had a significant role in producing and performing in the Kansas State Bar Show. Futhermore, he was a member of the Boy Scouts of America, the International Association of Defense Counsel, the Kansas City Club, the Forty Years Ago Club (President), the Vanguard Club of Kansas City, University of Kansas Law Alumni Association, and especially enjoyed more recently the members and events of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City.
He was often asked to speak to groups and students about various cases. Most frequently it concerned his involvement in the case that a book by Truman Capote was written, “In Cold Blood". As a very new young lawyer, he spent time at the Lansing Prison interviewing his firm's client, Perry Edward Smith, who ended up being “hanged by the neck until dead”, which at the time was still the law in Kansas.
Roger was an avid reader all his life. He enjoyed reading anything about history (with a special interest in the Civil War) and has acquired an impressive book collection. He was also a huge fan of anything to do with Jayhawks and KU sports and has had season football tickets (since 1963!) and basketball tickets. Saw KU win the Final Four in 2008 and the Orange Bowl the same season. Saw the Nittany Lions edge KU when we had 12 men on the field in 1968! Huge KC Chiefs and Royals fan also! Regularly attended KC Rep shows, JCCC and Theater League performances.
Enjoyed taking numerous walking trips with Judy to Europe: England, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy and Sicily; plus Summer trips in a station wagon with 3 active sons in the back, long before seat belts and computer games. He thought it was important to show our sons parts of American History: Grand Canyon, Monument Valley. Badlands, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, Yellowstone Park, the Tetons, Battle of the Little Big Horn to name a few. Fortunate to take many trips to great resorts, beaches and cities, both foreign and domestic in connection with the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He is survived by his wife Judith Duncan Stanton of the home. Sons: Jeffrey Blake Stanton & his wife Sarah Hannah Stanton Overland Park, Kansas and their children Kathryn (Stephen Nichols), Duncan Andrew and George Charles (Charlie); Brady Duncan Stanton (deceased 2006) and his children Henry Thomas and Peterson Quinn and their mother Martha Anstoetter, Leawood, Kansas: and Todd Andrew Stanton of Los Angeles. CA. Cousins: Dale Stanton. Orlando,FL. And Barbara Heier, Wayne, NE. And his devoted kitties Boo and Tommy Tuxedo who doted on sleeping on his chest or waking him up in the morning by walking near his head.
Remembering Jim Ogle
We are saddened to hear of the passing of James "Jim" Ogle Jr. Jim Ogle spoke at the February 2019 dinner meeting of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City. Here's a link to Jim's obituary. A Celebration of his life will be at 5:00 p.m. on Friday April 29, 2022, at Penwell-Gabel, 1321 SW 10th Avenue, Topeka, Kansas. The family will greet friends an hour prior to the service (i.e., starting at 4:00 p.m.). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Kansas City or a charity of the giver’s choice.
Remembering Al Boggs, Jr.
We are sony to report that Al Boggs, Jr. a long-time member of the Round Table, died on December 19th. Al was 96 years old. Al was most recently a member of the Round Table in 2010 when our dinner meetings were held at the Homestead Country Club.
According to Al's obituary in the Kansas City Star on December 26th, he was bom in Dermott, Arkansas and attended high school in Little Rock. He aspired to be a Presbyterian minister and attended Davidson College.
Al completed naval officer training during World War II and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University. He earned an MBA degree from Harvard University in 1949. Al built up the Lynn Elliott Company of Kansas City, his own sales engineering company, where he worked until the age of 83. Al loved history and was an avid tennis player.
A memorial service for Al was held at the Village Presbyterian Church on December 30, 2021.
Remembering Spike Speicher
We are very sorry to report that former Round Table member Colonel James L. Speicher died of cancer on September 11, 2021. James served as president of the Round Table in 2006 and was the speaker at several of our dinner meetings. He served as commander of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans of the Civil War (SCVCW) organization for many years. James and his wife Cindy moved to Apollo Beach FL a few years ago.
James graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina in 1968 and entered active duty with the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant. He was an Army Green Beret, a Professor of Military Science and a Department Director at the Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He retired in January 2001 as a colonel. In September 2004, he became the first Supervisory Intelligence Analyst for the Kansas City Division of the FBI, retiring from that position in January of 2013.
James had been a student of the Civil War since he was about ten. His hero was General Robert E. Lee. James had been a Confederate re-enactor since he was 13 and was a member of the 3rd Battery Missouri Light Artillery, CSA. James was a Life Member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, where he was the commander of the Major Thomas J. Key Camp #1920 in Johnson County, Kansas.
At our Round Table dinner meeting on March 22, 2016, James gave a very interesting program about the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley and her crews. He served as a pall-bearer during the ceremony when the remains of the crew from the H. L. Hunley were buried.
Remembering Thomas P. Sweeney, M.D.
The following is the eulogy delivered by Dr. William Garret Piston:
No eulogy can do full justice to a man as complex and accomplished as Tom Sweeney. When I met with Karen to consider the daunting task of discussing Tom at a gathering of family and friends, Karen spoke of Tom as a trail blazer, an adventurer, a leader, a devoted father, and a man who believed in giving back to the community. He as a man about whom one could say, without it being trite or shopworn, that he left the world a better place than he found it. Two themes emerged from our discussion: determination and passion. Although these are but two of Tom’s many characteristics, they may serve here to convey some of the reasons why those who knew Tom considered him to be an extraordinary man, a man whose impact was broad, a man who inspired many, and a man who set a standard as a Christian gentleman and a gentle man.
Tom Sweeney possessed remarkable determination. He grew up in St. Louis in considerable poverty, but poverty was not the greatest obstacle he had to overcome. Although Tom had a loving mother and supportive aunts, none of his family endorsed his ambition to raise himself above his humble beginnings. Instead they actively discouraged him. No one in the family had ever gone to college. Told by his family that anything else would be a waste of time and money, Tom entered a vocational school. It was a life-changing experience. The school’s vice principal literally pulled Tom out of class one day and informed him that a person of his intellect should not be doing vocational training, but should instead go to college. For the first time in Tom’s life, an adult recognized his potential, supported his ambitions, and expressed confidence in his ability. Tom became determined, determined in a manner that would characterize him from then on. He would not just go to college; he would go to the very best college possible given his circumstances. Thus, Tom became a student at Washington University, an institution then as now noted for the rigor of its curriculum. He excelled in his studies, but they were not initially directed toward a specific goal. Archaeology soon captured his attention, but then fate took a hand, guiding Tom in an unexpected direction toward the medical career in which he distinguished himself. When money ran short, Tom enlisted in the Navy to earn funds necessary to complete his education. But the Navy turned out to be an education in itself.
While serving at the Naval Station Great Lakes, located north of Chicago, he was assigned to be a medical technician. Thanks to a scarcity of personnel, the inefficiency of the establishment, and chance, Tom did far more that was required or expected of him. For example, in addition to performing occasional surgery, he once delivered a baby in the back seat of an automobile when an arriving expectant mother failed to get any closer than the base hospital’s parking lot. Tom made the most of every opportunity, doing more, and learning more, than anyone in his position would ordinarily embrace. He performed many tasks that were usually performed by physicians, and he found great satisfaction in both the challenges and responsibilities that these entailed. When Tom completed his enlistment and returned to Washington University, his sights were set on medical school.
Determination is an admirable characteristic, but left unmodified, if not placed in perspective, it can become negative. While enrolled at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Tom considered becoming an orthopedic surgeon. But Tom was now married and a father. He feared a surgeon’s career would leave him too little time for his family. Tom was passionate about family, passionate in the ordinary sense, but also passionate about the importance of family. Moreover, although Tom was dedicated to his medical career, he understood the need to have other interests, to have a full, well-rounded life.
But a bit more about Tom’s medical career. Tom chose to specialize in Interventional Radiology, an aspect of medicine which was then very much underappreciated. When Tom entered private practice in Springfield, he became one of the pioneers of Interventional Radiology in southwest Missouri, if not the state. Characteristically, he championed an undervalued aspect of medicine that would make a critical difference for countless patients were its importance recognized. Tom won respect and acclaim from his colleagues and hospital administrators, who often trusted him to investigate the latest equipment and techniques. As a leader and a teacher, Tom inspired and encouraged those who were considering, or just entering, medical careers. There are physicians, nurses, and medical specialists here today far more qualified than I am to speak about Tom’s legacy to the medical community. But I can give an example that captures Tom’s determination and passion in this regard. Those of you who know the story, please forgive the failure of my layman’s narrative to convey adequately the level of Tom’s accomplishment. Tom’s passion led him to master his chosen medical specialty to the fullest extent of his impressive abilities. Among other things, he trained with leaders in the field at Duke University. When a colleague brought to Tom a patient dying from a massive number of blood clots, Tom brought not only his skill and determination to the case, but also his courage. After rigorous research and consultation with specialists at Duke, Tom concluded that the best course of action was an operation to physically remove the clots. Tom had never performed this operation - indeed, it had never been done in the United States- but the situation was desperate. Tom explained to the patient, the patient’s family, and his colleagues, that although he had never performed the operation’s technique, he was confident in his ability and optimistic regarding success. There followed a grueling ten-to-twelve-hour operation during which neither Tom nor any member of the interventional team took a break of any kind. With extraordinary dexterity, Tom employed the latest medical technology to break up and safely removed the patient’s clots, following each vein and artery millimeter by millimeter. The results were successful, but the story does not end there. When a doctor on weekend call canceled Tom’s postoperative medical regimen for the patient, the clots returned and Tom had to do the entire dangerous and grueling operation a second time. Medical technician David Voyls has commented that Tom Sweeney “had the most gifted hands I have ever seen.” Many who observed Tom at work would concur. Nor is there a shortage of stories about the gratitude of Tom’s patients. Tom worked hard, but for him medicine was truly a labor of love. He told Karen that its challenges gave him a reason to get up each morning and eagerly embrace the day. Springfield was indeed fortunate to have Tom Sweeney as a part of the medical community.
Tom had another major passion, as we all know. His childhood fascination with the American Civil War blossomed in adulthood, leading him to become one of the nation’s foremost collectors of Civil War artifacts, and one of the nation’s premier authorities on Civil War medicine. Few aspects of the material culture of the Civil War escaped Tom’s interest. A musket, a flag, a uniform, a drum, a pistol, a photograph, a diary, a letter. Tom not only collected artifacts; he fully mastered the details of everything he acquired. Aided by the impressive reference library he assembled, Tom sorted the fake from the genuine, the mundane from the rarity. Within the world of collectors, he achieved the highest possible reputation, not only for his knowledge but also for his integrity. Tom enjoyed his collection and took pleasure in finding something rare. He could tell endless stories about this item or that, stories that often emphasized the friendship he maintained with fellow enthusiasts. But he never acquired anything merely for the sake of owning it. Whether it was a button or a bullet, a Bible belonging to John Brown or a flag carried by Cherokee Confederates, the diary of a soldier or a letter written by a Missouri farm wife, Tom valued the things he collected because they were a bridge to a past he desired to honor and preserve for future generations. He became recognized nationally for his expertise in medical artifacts and was a founding member of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland.
He also spent many hours presenting programs on Civil War medicine at the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and the Pea Ridge National Military Park, ceasing only when health issues intervened. Tom’s presentations were popular with young and old alike, but he had a particularly rapport with children. Tom did not have a loud teacher’s voice, much less the booming volume of National Park Service interpreters. He made his presentation in his ordinary soft voice and crowds became quiet in order to catch what he was saying. Through such activities Tom instilled a love of history and a respect for historic preservation among generations of Ozarks youth.
Through his collecting and historical presentations (which he often made while wearing reproduction period clothing) Tom acquired a large circle of friends and acquaintances who shared his passion. When artist Andy Thomas of Maze Creek Studios in Carthage painted a picture of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, he immortalized Tom by depicting him as one of the soldiers in the foreground. I’m sure Tom would rather have been depicted as a physician, but Andy Thomas knows that if you want to sell art you paint battles, not hospital scenes. When my good friend Rick Hatcher and I co-authored a book on Wilson’s Creek, we chose Thomas’s painting for the dust jacket. Thus, Tom Sweeney’s image sits on many a bookshelf.
By 1982, Tom began looking for a way for his collection to benefit the community. At Karen’s suggestion, he began to specialize in material relating to the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi (the area west of the Mississippi River). As a result, in 1992 Tom and Karen opened General Sweeny’s Museum, named after General Thomas Sweeny, a participant in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. After operating the museum for thirteen years, they sold the collection to the National Park Service. I served on a committee of advisors to the Park Service that evaluated the collection’s historical significance, attesting to the fact that it had no equal in scope or depth, and was unsurpassed in the meticulous research and documentation that accompanied every item. This was not the accumulated “stuff’ of a hobbyist; it was a magnificent accomplishment in historic preservation. With its acquisition the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield became the foremost research and educational center for the study of the Civil War in the West. Throughout this process, Tom insisted that it be identified as the Tom and Karen Sweeney Collection, giving Karen full credit for her role in shaping the direction of his efforts.
I met Tom shortly after coming to Springfield in 1988. Many was the time a student brought something into my office and received as my response “Well, I think I can identify this, but let’s check with Tom Sweeney.” I’m afraid I contributed substantially to the number of times Tom was asked to give his expert evaluation without compensation. Turnabout is fair play, and I became more closely acquainted with him when he asked my advice regarding one of his many projects, the preservation of records and artifacts relating to the Greene County Medical Society.
When a publisher approached me to produce a photographic history of Civil War Missouri, a partnership with Tom was inevitable. This brings me to an aspect of Tom’s passion virtually hidden from view, observed only by myself and Karen, as research and writing are largely solidary affairs. To my great good fortune, my collaborative efforts have strengthened friendships, but this is by no means guaranteed. I am happy to say that working with Tom was a pleasure. Because we were both otherwise fully employed, it took several years to produce our book, Portraits of Conflict; A Photographic History of Missouri in the Civil War. This drew, of course, upon Tom and Karen’s collection, but research also involved visiting archives and libraries across Missouri and Arkansas. My happiest memories of Tom come from those research trips. It was then that I really got to know him. Long drives provided time for conversation about our lives, as did dinners after a long day’s work. We developed a tradition of eating at least once during each research trip at an upscale Mexican restaurant. We defined “upscale” as a restaurant possessing a bar good enough to stock single malt scotch. But the research itself was the most fun. Sitting at a table sorting through Civil War images and corresponding documents does not, of course, meet everyone’s definition of entertainment, but it did ours. How fortunate are those whose vocation and avocation coincide. To make the most of our time we often worked from eight to five, with only the briefest break for lunch. We divided the research tasks, usually working on opposite side of a table. Our quest was not for just any Civil War photographs, but for images that could tell the story of Missouri’s desperate struggle during the war years. The sharing came when either of us found a particularly striking photograph with sufficient documentation about the person in the image. A casualty in battle. A prisoner of war. An ordinary farmer who rose to become an officer. A slave who fought for his freedom. A woman accused of spying. A widow in mourning. All coming down to a couple of gray-hair men hunched over their laptop computers, whispering excitedly to each other. Well, you had to be there. Tom and I wrote the first draft of selected chapters, then swapped them, criticizing, expanding, and editing each other’s work. By the time we finished passing multiple drafts back and forth, there as such an exchange that no portion of the book particularly “mine” or “Tom’s,” with one exception. The chapter on medicine in Civil War Missouri was Tom’s labor of love, and while 1 added to it, that chapter represents Tom’s greatest scholarly achievement. Ten years after our book’s publication it remains the most authoritative work on the topic extant, and that chapter’s strength is one of the reasons Portraits of Conflict won the prestigious Missouri Book of the Year award from the State Historical Society of Missouri. Tom went on to co-author another important work, with Kip Lindberg, entitled “A Scene of Horrors A Medical and Surgical History of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
As fellow Presbyterians Tom and I sometimes discussed religion, but only in general terms, and usually to deplore the fact that minor details and inconsequential things so often prevented people from focusing on the central message of Christianity, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Karen tells me that Tom’s faith focused on beauty, warmth, and forgiveness - the gentleness of a Creator whose love is all-embracing.
Determination and passion. So much more could be said about Tom Sweeney in relation to those themes, themes which I noted are but two aspects of a very complex man. Each of us here interacted with Tom in a unique manner; each of us has unique memories. While we look forward to that eternal communion which is ours in Christ, at moments like these we might be forgiven our sadness and sense of loss. The family’s loss is beyond words. The loss felt by friends and admirers is acute. My own words here have been inadequate, but they are heartfelt. Tom, on behalf of us all, we miss you.
Remembering Ralph Beckwith
The following is from the Leavenworth Times newspaper: Ralph George Beckwith, 79, Leavenworth KS, passed away April 19, 2021, peacefully at home.
Ralph graduated from Fullerton (Junior) College and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He joined the U.S. Army and while stationed overseas in Darmstadt, Germany, fell in love with his future wife, Hermine Lima. They were married on May 31, 1969 in Bellville IL. Ralph and his wife had two children: Alexander and Kathrine.
Ralph served in the Missouri National Guard, taught high school social studies for ten years. He reenlisted in the Army and taught ROTC at The Ohio State University and later military strategy and tactics at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
In retirement, Ralph was involved in a number of volunteer activities and served as president of the national Fred Harvey Museum.
Mass of Christian burial was held on April 30th at St. Franis de Sales Catholic Church. Ralph was buried in the Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Remembering Nan Borden
We are very sorry to report that Ray Borden's wife, Nan, passed away on March 9, 2021. Visitation is 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, March 13th, followed by a 2:00 p.m. Celebration of Life Service at the Johnson County Funeral Chapel in Overland Park. Please keep Ray and his family in you thoughts and prayers.
Don Bates is a good friend of Ray Borden's and sent the following e-mail:
I met Ray in 1970. He was CFO for the Sutherland Lumber Companies. I did their printing for the next 10 years. But, in 1970 Ray and I started having breakfast together on Wednesdays for the next 50 years until COVID. I have picked him up for Round Table meetings since we moved to the Holiday Inn. Nan and Ray were married for close to 65 years, have 4 daughters, and are an extremely close family. They are an example of a family and life well lived.
The good news going forward is that I feel that Ray will again come back to the Round Table meetings. They were close friends with my wife Lindy and me up until my wife became ill in 1994.
Thank all of you for your friendship! It means more than you can understand. I joined our Round Table in 1979 and in 1994 when Lindy's illness came on it was our CWRTKC that gave me a night to look forward to each month.
I hope you count your blessings daily,
God bless, Don Bates
Remembering John Jenks
Former Round Table member John M. Jenks passed away on October 28, 2020 at the age of 89. He was a member of our Round Table from 2001 to 2015. John graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. He worked 30 years for the Phillipsburg Division of Bell & Howell in Chicago IL. John moved to Leawood in 1990 to live near his grandchildren. His memorial service took place at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park KS on November 13th.
Remembering Bud Price
Round Table member Bud Price passed away on June 30, 2020. He was 77 years old. Bud and his wife Carol joined the Round Table in 2015. They were married in 1973 in Kansas City and have three sons and two grandchildren. Bud graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor degree in Business and Finance. Bud worked for City National Bank and the Hanna Rubber Company. In 1974, Bud purchased Colonial Patterns and was joined by Carol and two of his sons. Bud served on the Board of American Bank and the River Market Area Development Corporation. He was a devout member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Bud also enjoyed golfing and was a member of the Kansas City Country Club. A live, virtual funeral service was held on July 8th. Bud will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved him. Here's a link to Bud's obituary at the Mt. Moriah, Newcomer and Freeman Funeral Home.
Remembering Jack Brooks
At our January dinner meeting, Don Bates spoke about former member of the Civil War Round Table, Colonel Jack Brooks who died recently at the age of 99. Don said the memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on March 9, 2020 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, located at 6630 Nall Avenue, Mission KS 66202.
Colonel Brooks served as president of our Round Table in 1987 and 1990. He received the Steve Treaster Civil War Preservation Award in 2012 and the Valiant Service Award in 1989. Colonel Brooks was also a World War II hero. The following article was published in the Johnson County magazine The Best Times in June of 2014:
D-Day Veterans Recall Landing at Omaha Beach
By Gerald Hay
Most of them were teenagers. They were drafted into the military or joined to help turn the tide of World War II. Seventy years ago, on June 6, 1944, now known as D-Day, many of them had their first taste of combat.
Retired Colonel Jack Brooks, 94, Leawood, was landing on Normandy from the sea. He was in the first wave to storm Omaha Beach. The assault had the most casualties on D-Day.
Back then, he was a 24-year-old captain of an Army company with the 1st Infantry “Big Red One” Division. Before Normandy, he had fought in Northern Africa and Sicily. “I could think of a thousand other places I would rather be than Omaha Beach," Brooks said with a smile.
D-Day seemed like mass confusion. The noise was deafening. Big guns fired, men shouted, and geysers of water erupted around scores of landing craft as they reached the beaches. The Germans had every inch of the beach pre-sighted for accurate firing of mortars, machine guns, and 88 mm cannons.
His advice to his troops was simple: When the ramp of the landing craft drops, go out, and don’t stop for anything in trying to reach a protective berm. Wire and a minefield stalled their advancement to the bluffs until holes were blown in the wire and a pathway cleared among the mines.
By nightfall, about 175,000 Allied military personnel were ashore in France. But the cost had been very high -some 4,900 died on the beaches and in the battle further inland that day. “We lost 48 men,” Brooks said, referring to his company of 140 soldiers. “Our regiment of 3,200 troops lost 35 officers and 950 men on the first day.”
Following D-Day, he said the campaign across France was easier than getting off the beaches, as Allied forces headed to the Netherlands before crossing into Germany. He was awarded four Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts in WWII.
Brooks entered the Army six months before Pearl Harbor and made it a career after the war, serving a tour in the Korean War and two tours in the Vietnam War before retiring in 1966. His medals also include a Legion of Merit and French Legion of Honor.
Aside from serving in three wars. Brooks didn’t come away empty handed when the fighting ended in Europe in 1945. While stationed at Bamberg, Germany, he met Ingeborg, his future wife, but wasn’t allowed to marry her while he was overseas.
After returning stateside, he had to post a $500 bond with a stipulation that the wedding would occur within 60 days or she would have to return to her homeland. He has been married to his war bride for 66 years.
Remembering Scott D. Richart
We are very sorry to report that Round Table member Scott D. Richart passed away on June 17, 2019 at the age of 66.
Scott was bom on August 10, 1952, in Williamsport PA. After receiving his master’s degree in civil engineering from Syracuse University, he worked for Pullman Power Products, then 25 years for Bums & McDonnell in Kansas City, from which he recently retired. Since then, he enjoyed volunteering at the Overland Park Arboretum and playing on a local pool team with friends. A member of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City since 2013 and a patron of civil war sites, he had a passion for U.S. history. An avid reader, he meticulously documented over 500 completed books of all types in a log kept since 1980.
Scott is survived by his wife, Susan Richart, who is also a member of the Round Table, his son, David Richart, daughter, Michelle (Grant) Wittenbom, grandsons, Owen and Luke Wittenbom. Please keep Susan and her family in your prayers. Scott will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
A memorial service will be held at Church of the Resurrection, Wesley Chapel, at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, July 12th, with a reception following the service.
Remembering John M. Coleton
Round Table member Mary Vorsten sent the following e-mail on June 30th regarding former Round Table Member John M. Coleton:
A note to say the obituary for John M. Coleton, a Civil War Round Table member is in today's KC Star. I don't think he has been a member in recent years but he was involved in the 1990's and may have been the Chaplain as some point. I met him when he was doing Clinical Pastoral Education at Baptist Medical Center and recruited him to the Round Table. He attended in the era of Jack Brooks and Oivis Fitts and had much in common with them regarding WWII. My last contact with him was seeing him with Doris (another Baptist Medical Center employee) at Sweet Tomatoes just east of State Line, that was several years ago. He always enjoyed the dinner meetings and hearing the speakers.
John M. Coleton, 95, died on June 25, 2019. He was bom April 25, 1924. He attended LaSalle Institute in Troy, NY, and received a degree from Alfred University in Alfred, NY. During WWII, John enlisted as a volunteer in the infantry and was wounded in action at Coblenz, Germany. He received the Silver Star, Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, European Theater with three campaign stars for The Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe, and the Good Conduct Medal. He received a battlefield commission, Expert Infantry Badge and Combat Infantry Award. He was also a member of the Civil War Round Table through 2013.
John was employed by Western Auto and transferred to Kansas City in 1962. He retired as Senior Buyer of major appliances. Ordained in the Sacred Order of Deacons by the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, he served at several local Episcopal churches. He also completed Clinical Pastoral Education and served as a hospital chaplain. An inurnment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington VA, at a later date.
Remembering Purd B. Wright III
Purd Wright in a photo taken on October 24, 2015
Long-time Civil War Round Table member Purd B. Wright III passed away at the age of 88 on Thanksgiving, November 22, 2018. Purd was born in Kansas City MO in 1930 and attended an all boys boarding school in Kent CT. He earned varsity letters in football and rowing. He attended Princeton University, but left to join the Air Force in 1951.
Purd was assigned to the Strategic Air Command Survival School at Fort Carson CO and was trained as a combat intelligence instructor. Purd was sent to Morocco, where he served at Sidi Slimane Air Force Base and the Headquarters of the 5th Air Division. He was Honorably Discharged from the service at Camp Kilmer NJ in 1954. Purd went back to Princeton and graduated with Honors in History in 1956.
Purd was employed as a traveling salesman and sales manager for 41 years with International Paper Company, FMC Corporation, and GardenWay, Inc. He was a member of the Saddle and Sirloin Club of Kansas City and was a dedicated trail rider.
Purd and his wife Peggy have been regular attendees at our Civil War Round Table dinner meetings. Purd loved history. He will be greatly missed by all of those who knew and loved him.
Remembering Betty Ergovich
Betty Ergovich at the CWRT-KC dinner meeting held on December 19, 2017
Long-time Civil War Round Table member Betty Ergovich passed away on Monday, October 22, 2018. Betty served as president of the Round Table in 1999 and was presented with the Valiant Service Award in 2012. She most recently served as Historian for the Round Table.
Betty cared deeply about the Round Table and loved going to the Round Table dinner meetings. Betty suffered a stroke in 2016 and had been living in the memory care unit at Villa St. Francis in Olathe K.S. Betty last attended a dinner meeting with her daughter Phyllis Ergovich-Marshall in February of this year.
Remembering Joelouis Mattox
Former Civil War Round Table member Joelouis Mattox passed away, at his home in Kansas City MO, on March 20, 2017. He was 79 years old. The memorial service was held on March 30th and Joe was buried at the Leavenworth National Cemetery.
There was an excellent article about Joe in the Kansas City Star on March 22nd. The article states that Joe "spent his life researching, writing, and lecturing about the contributions of African-Americans in Kansas City and throughout the region. Since the early 1990's Mattox was an independent scholar and volunteer at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and State Museum in Kansas City."
Joe was a member of the Monnett Battle of Westport Fund and was a volunteer at the Battle of Westport Museum in Swope Park. Joe was a true gentleman and was recognized as a "Living Historian." Joe will be greatly missed by all those that knew him.
For more remembrances of Joe follow these links: