Robert K. Thom of Derby, KS passed from this life to the next Sunday, May 12, 2019. He spent his last moments here displaying the true essence of his character by caring for his wife of nearly 55 years, Sharon. Robert was born in 1934 in Nashville, KS to Otto H. Thom and Ruth Monrad Thom. On the family farm near Isabel, he and his sister Phyllis learned the hard work and constancy that carried him through life.
Bob attended Kansas State University, studying chemistry and beginning a full career as a research chemist at Vulcan Materials. He became known as a particles expert, and was recruited as a consultant after his retirement in 1999. He was always a humble and quiet person, so his family was somewhat surprised by his being known in other parts of the country. His farming and chemistry background ingrained a concern for safety and Bob would develop protocols to ensure that others wouldn't be harmed whether conducting chemical experiments, skating on the frozen creek, or swinging on a new swingset.
Bob was able to see the intricacies in nature that most people didn't notice or study enough to understand. He delighted not only in subatomic particles, but also in the vast expanse of the cosmos. He was in awe of the display of the Lord's creativity and power as he studied different aspect of astronomy geology, botany, zoology, meteorology, geometry, art, and the Bible. He loved learning and yet was comfortable under the weight of infinite mystery found in the Lord.
His life was also punctuated by a spunk that manifested itself in a variety of ways. Bob learned to pilot planes, ski, sail, windsurf, and even bungee jump! He enjoyed driving his red 1964 Mustang, hiking, camping, going on a safari, and exercising.
Together, Bob and his wife Sharon committed to long term relationships. They patiently parented three active children, teaching them everything from the books of the Bible, how to tie shoes, long division, Scouting material, music, and the joy of exploring God's world. They enjoyed 54 years of fellowship with the Hand in Hand Sunday school class at First United Methodist Church in Wichita and 50 years of socializing and strategizing with their Bridge Club.
People from all areas of Bob's life knew that he was quiet, but learned to listen carefully when he did share what was on his mind. His brief statements might contain summaries he developed after years of pondering. The letters he wrote and prayers he prepared for a few special events in life are some of his children's greatest treasures.
After retirement, Bob pursued activity in areas of passion. He became a Master Gardener with the K-State Extension Office, built an expansive water garden in his already-beautiful yard, and joined Bible Study Fellowship for in-depth pursuit of God's truth. Sharon and Bob began a whole new chapter in life together serving as short term missionaries through the mission department of their church. They traveled to serve throughout the United States, South America, Africa, Europe, and Wichita joyfully using their talents to meet whatever needs came their way.
Robert K. Thom is survived by his wife Sharon K. Thom; children Erica (Deje) Glassburn, Kristin Thom (Jason Kinder), and Brian (Megan) Thom; and grandchildren Justin, Samuel, Jacob, Julia, Eloise, and Eila.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to First United Methodist Church of Wichita Missions Department. A memorial service will be held May 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm at First United Methodist Church, 330 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS.