Cover photo for Thomas J. 'Tom' Pitner's Obituary
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Thomas J. 'Tom' Pitner

August 22, 1933 — December 5, 2022

Thomas J. 'Tom' Pitner


Thomas J. "Tom" Pitner, born on August 22, 1933, near Atwood, Kansas, a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, son, farm boy, friend, banker, S.J.M.A. Cadet, seeker of truth and understanding, FHSU booster, community pillar, and fellow sufferer, passed away in his sleep on December 5, 2022, in his 90th year, supported by his wife Carol and their extended families.

Tom loved Carol and his family. Tom loved life. Tom had great faith. Tom loved a shot of whiskey in the evening. Tom loved his work, and Tom loved working his plan. The strong-willed son of strong-willed Czech and Polish parents, Tom never chose his path because it would be easy. Rocks, roots, and unbroken land never kept his furrow from being straight and true. When, as happens, the first pass wasnt right, Tom put his plow back in the ground and stopped only when his work met the exacting standards of John and Beulah, Toms exacting parents, whose standards became his own.

Blocked from a military career by a high school football injury, blocked from college by the responsibilities of early marriage and children, Toms resilience, drive, intelligence, and will led him to a career in insurance, and then, with the help of friends and mentors, into banking. Befitting a farm boy with neither capital, family connections, nor a college education, Tom was given the hardest job, turning around banks in distress. After learning banking at the School of Grab a Shovel and Start Digging Hard Knocks in Ames, Iowa, Tom and Carol returned to Kansas, that is, Ad Astra per Aspera.

Tom embraced his opportunities. Demanding excellence from himself and others, and with Carols unwavering support, made banks in WaKeeney and Hays both successful businesses and community leaders. Because no good deed goes unpunished, and because finding a person who is both a good banker and a good Democrat is a rare thing in Kansas, Tom was appointed by the Governor to be a member of the Kansas Banking Commission

Tom cared not about a persons family pedigree, skin color, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tom judged his fellows by the content of their character (and of their business plan), though he also admired anyone who could hit a long tee shot or cook a good ribeye steak (the latter being a requirement for marrying his daughters).

In his nearly 90 years, Tom experienced the full measure of joy, sorrow, successes and disappointments. Preceded in death by his son Tim, who suffered from untreatable depression and who died from suicide, Tom turned his own suffering to action. Tom became a champion for those with mental illness, was on the Board of NAMI, and brought support and comfort to many by telling Tims story, and his own, in the Hays newspaper.

It is said that the story of a persons life need not be long for it to be good. The story of Toms life is both long and good. Still, Tom wanted more. More time with Carol. More time to see how the stories of the lives of his grandchildren and great grandchildren would unfold. More sunrises and sunsets. More time to watch wheat ripen and birds sing. And more time to develop his short game. In a real sense, Toms death does not bring his story to an end. Toms influence, both as an inspiration and warning, will live on in those of us who knew him. Whenever we look to ensure our furrow is straight, see the opportunities in obstacles, or enjoy a delicious meal, we will feel Toms influence. And, too, Toms life will remind us not to wait too long to work on our own end games.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, John and Beulah (Haremza) Pitner; his first wife, Donna (Dreiling); his brother, Don Pitner; his sister, Mary Steinke; and their spouses; and his son, Tim Pitner.

Tom is survived by his wife, Carol (Bolin); his sisters, Betty Neary; Patty Frisbie; and their spouses; his children, Kolean Pitner; Karen Luckett; Kim Pitner-Keller; Tom Pitner; Todd Pitner; and their spouses; his stepchildren, Ken Sullivan; Jeannine Lutters; Kim Karlberg; Scott Sullivan; and their spouses; his grandchildren: Chris, Cory, Jez, Kiley, Genee, Rylee, Tory, Nikki, Mollie, Shannon, Abby, Alix, and Vlada; and his great grandchildren: Logan, Adderley, Sidney and Clark.

Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00 A.M. Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at Saint Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church, 2901 East 13th Street, Hays, Kansas. A family inurnment will be at the Goodland Cemetery, Goodland, Kansas at a later date.

A vigil service and rosary will be at 6:30 Tuesday, at Clines-Keithley Mortuary of Hays, 1919 East 22nd Street, Hays, Kansas 67601.

Visitation will be from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Tuesday, at Clines-Keithley Mortuary of Hays, and from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M. Wednesday, at Saint Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church.

In Lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials made payable to: NAMI of Hays (National Alliance of Mental Illness), in care of the mortuary.

Condolences can be sent via e-mail to or can be left by guestbook at


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