Arthur H. Thomas

Arthur H. Thomas was born in Minneapolis, MN, on April 24, 1929 and passed away on April 4, 2017 in Lawrence, KS. He was the son of Clyde S. and Louise L. Thomas. Art grew up in Sauk Centre, MN where his family lived in the former home of Sinclair Lewis. While growing up, Art spent idyllic summers at Camp Warren, a YMCA boys’ camp in Eveleth, MN, eventually working as a camp counselor and waterfront director during his college years. He graduated from Carleton College and earned an MA in school counseling at the University of Minnesota. During that time, he met his future wife, the former Barbara J. Butters, on a blind date. They were married on June 15, 1955, in Minneapolis, MN. After a decade of high school teaching and counseling, Art, Barb, and their three young sons moved to East Lansing, MI where Art earned a PhD in counseling in 1967.

Following graduation, Art joined the University of Kansas School of Education Department of Counseling faculty in 1968. His dissertation research was regarded as groundbreaking in the field of school counseling. It demonstrated inherent gender bias among high school counselors when advising students about potential career choices. At a time when young women were advocating for equal rights and better career opportunities, Art’s work influenced the quality of school guidance they received. His scholarship received several professional awards. During the late 1970s and early1980s, Art worked in collaboration with KU colleagues and Ft Leavenworth leaders to develop and implement advanced officer training in the areas of communication, problem solving, and team building skills. By far, the professional achievements Art treasured most were the hundreds of school counselors and counselor educators he helped prepare through the Department and the countless KU students he counseled and mentored through his work at the KU Counseling Center. He retired from KU in 1994.

In retirement Art enjoyed travel, entertaining, theater, puzzles, summer time at Ten Mile Lake in northern MN, and opera. He was an avid bridge player and a master knitter. He was a dedicated Lawrence Visitors Center volunteer, Lawrence Community Theater supporter, and an enthusiastic member of the University Bridge Club. Art will be remembered as a caring and gentle man who was devoted to his family and loved them unconditionally. His three sons are grateful for the friendship, life lessons, and support he provided. He encouraged all to pursue their dreams—even when they were not necessarily the ones that Art might have chosen. He instilled a strong sense of personal responsibility in his them for their actions; he was always there to provide encouragement, wise counsel, and good problem solving skills–especially when things didn’t go as well as planned. Most importantly, Art taught them the importance of talking through problems, listening to others, and working toward common goals with others to ensure good outcomes for all. He also taught his sons and grandchildren to appreciate long-term friendships, fine wool sweaters, good shoes, weather forecasts, Dove ice cream bars, white cars, and impromptu naps.

Art is survived by Barbara, his wife of 61 years, three sons and their wives: Scott and Chriss Walther-Thomas of Richmond, VA, Kirk and Barbara Thomas of Kansas City, and Ross and Heather Thomas of Topeka; six grandchildren and their spouses: Lyndsey Fjellstedt (Anders), Emily Guffey (Nick), Drew Scott (Ryan), Alan Thomas, Jennifer Thomas (Harry Althoff), and Molly Thomas; and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Margaret and Jeff Human, Bethesda, MD; and his sister-in-law, Ruth Ferris, Northbrook, IL; as well as five nieces and their families.

There will be a visitation Friday afternoon at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home from 5:00-6:30 pm, and a coffee and cookie hour on Saturday afternoon at Presbyterian Manor from 2:30-3:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Art’s family encourages friends to honor his memory by volunteering in the community, appreciating good service and thanking people for their help, sending kids to camp, and listening to opera. Memorials may be made to YMCA Camp Warren in Eveleth, MN, the Lawrence Community Theater, or a charity of your choice. Online Condolences may be sent at

Messages & Condolences

From Mary Gordon...

Dear Barb and family,
I am very saddened to hear of your loss of Art. Please know that you are in my prayers. Love,

From Shannon D. McCoy...

Dear Barb,

So sorry to hear about your loss.

From Sherry Rohn...

Dear Barb and Family,
My condolences to you on Art’s death. He was always such a delight in my knitting classes and always increased the enjoyment of those around him.

From Bob Brandt...

I will miss Art very much, he was a very dear friend. My prayers and sympathy to Barbara and the family

From Joan and Tom Black...

Dear Barb and Family,
So saddened to read of Arthur’s death and was reminded in the obituary of all he did for others. Such talent, kindness, and creativity he brought into the lives of so many. You are in our thoughts.

Messages are closed.