Thomas Allen Erwin

August 5, 2018


Thomas Allen Erwin, 63, died on August 5, 2018 from surgery complications in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. He was born in Wichita, Kansas on October 9, 1954.

Those who knew Tom described him as a kind, gentle and loving spirit who put others before himself. His family was his priority and he loved spending quality time with them. He married his wife and best friend, Kathie, after she proposed to him following a brief two-month courtship. They were married for 41 years and still held hands every day. Together they raised their daughters, Sasha and Karis, to be strong, independent women. He always supported their dreams and crazy adventures. Tom, aka Poppy, loved spending time with his grandchildren and watching them grow in their activities.

Tom enjoyed riding his bicycle with his buddies. He completed Bike Across Kansas and Bike Across Missouri several times. He liked wood working, exploring new places and fly-fishing, although he only caught one tiny fish. Learning was a passion of Tom’s and he poured himself into nonfiction books.

After years of dreaming and research, Tom and Kathie, traveled North America full time in their fifth wheel home during the past year. He enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing local cultures, history and food, including craft beers.

Tom graduated from Heights High School in Wichita, Kansas. He earned his Bachelor’s in Science degree in Social Work, with a minor in Psychology, from Pittsburg State University. He earned a Master’s degree in Counseling at Wichita State University and completed many courses toward a Ph.D. in Informational Technology at Kansas State University. He started his career as a school social worker for Wichita Public Schools. He retired as Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas in May 2017, after 32 years of service. Tom loved his time at Butler where he met so many people who positively impacted his life and the life of his family.

Tom was traveling in Newfoundland for two months prior to his death in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It is hard to describe the compassion and kindness of the Newfoundland culture. His family feels comforted by the support from thousands of Newfies who have offered lodging, food, transportation and encouraging words to his family. Tom was humbled by the outpouring of love and his wish would be that others mirror the kindness to strangers that his family has been shown. His family would like to thank the extremely competent and compassionate hospital staff at Health Sciences Centre.

Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Vilma Erwin. He is survived by his wife Kathie (Schairbaum); daughter Sasha Kalis and son-in-law Ryan; daughter Karisa Erwin; foster daughter Anne Paton; grandchildren Haley, Drew and Parker; foster grandson Jacob; sister Cheryl Roy (Dave); brother Bob Erwin (Karen); mother-in-law Marilou Schairbaum; brother-in-law Herb Schairbaum (Liz); nieces and nephews; and many loving friends.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Tom on September 15 at 1 p.m. in the Hubbard Welcome Center, Clifford/Stone Community Room, at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.



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Hi Kathie and Family. We are so very sorry for your loss. We apologize we weren’t able to attend the service for Tom. We were at a family members funeral service. We are thinking of you.
Tammie and Ken Hall

Sending thoughts and prayers. Hugh enjoyed working with Tom and thought highly of him.
Mrs. Hugh Richardson

I’m so sorry to hear about Tom’s passing. I knew Tom through Butler when I was a Trustee. I’m sure it is very hard for the family especially when it is so sudden and he was so young. I lost my mom in March to a massive stroke and it is the hardest thing ever. Keep your family and friends close. God Bless

I was so sorry to hear about Tom. I met him when he was part of a community group from Butler Community College that spent a school year volunteering in my first grade classroom several years ago. He was always so patient with my students, and showed great interest in whatever they were studying at the time. My students loved him, and were thrilled when he was at their table for the group’s weekly visit. He was also very impressed to see what technology my students were using in their lessons. I hope that this helps all of you in knowing that he made a difference in my classroom that year, and he also made a difference in my students’ lives. I deeply respected him, and will always remember him. I will be praying for all of you.

Karis, We’re so sorry for your family’s loss. May all of your wonderful memories comfort you in the days ahead. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

John and Carol Higgs

“And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
My sincere condolences to the Erwin family and those who knew and loved Thomas on the unexpected loss of your dear loved one.
The Bible promises at Acts 24:15 and John 5:28,29 of a resurrection, which is a sure hope of being reunited with our dead loved ones.
For more information visit JW.ORG and click on Bible teachings; Can the dead really live again in the search area.
Wishing you peace and comfort.

Unfortunately, I never had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mr. Erwin, but know what a very special individual he must have been. I see so many beautiful qualities in his daughter, Sasha. I’m blessed to be a part of the Park Hill family with Sasha. May Mrs. Erwin and the family know that many, many prayers and thoughts continue to come your way.

My condolences to your family on your loss of Tom. I just wanted to leave a note to say that I enjoyed seeing Tom a couple times while I was the waitress at the Whistle Stop Cafe’ in a small town in Walton, Kansas. Tom rode his bicycle to the cafe’ a few times with a friend of his, Joe Dickenson. Tom was a very friendly person, and always smiling. Wish I could’ve known him better. He sounds like a really great husband, father, and friend. Prayers for your family.

Karis, Kathie & family,
Jim & I want to express our sympathy to all. While we did not know your father well, we found him to be a kind and loving husband & father. Karis, we have great memories of you from your high school days attending First Presbyterian. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. May you find peace and comfort in the days ahead.
Jim & Donna Anderson

My heartfelt prayers go out to the family. Grateful I got to work with Tom. He was always kind and generous in his actions. May God comfort each of you during this time of loss.

My condolences to the Erwin family. Tom was a mentor and a friend. I’m honored to have been touched by him.

Prayers and sympathy to Tom’s family. It was a privilege and honor to report to Tom during my tenure at Butler Community College. His leadership, morals, and commitment to education positively affected my career and the lives of thousands of students. The world is a better place for his having passed through this way.

Karis and all,
I am deeply sorry for and saddened to hear about your loss. Your family is in our prayer.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Erwin family. I remember numerous stories while working with Sasha about her father. Her love and admiration for him was clearly evident. He will be missed, however never forgotten. ❤️🙏🏽

It was nice seeing you all one last time at the exchange, safe trip going back home.
Our deep condolences to all of you…

Dear Karis-

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Sending my condolences…
Carol Miller