Thomas Swearingen

Funeral services for Thomas H. Swearingen, 74, Lawrence, KS, will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, August 15, 2011 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.  Burial will follow in the Clinton Cemetery in Clinton, KS.  He died on Thursday, August 11, 2011 at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

He was born on September 14, 1936 in Horton, KS, the son of Roger O. & Alberta Kinkade Swearingen.

He was a 1960 graduate of Kansas University with a B.A. degree in Graphic Arts.

Tom was retired as the Director of Exhibits at the Dyche Natural History Museum on the University of Kansas campus.  He had worked there from 1960 to 2001. While there, he was well-known for his exhibit of “Comanche”, the lone military survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn with General Custer and Chief Sitting Bull.  He had worked both internationally and in this country on special exhibits and set-up the National Museum in Bahrain.  He devoted much time to creating exhibits of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.

He was a member of the Shetland Pony Association of America, and the Kansas Taxidermist Association.

He was married to Nancy Wempe on August 26, 1967 in Lawrence, KS.  She survives of the home.

Other survivors include a daughter, Heather Van Swearingen, of Marinwood, CA, three sons; Thomas H. Jr. (wife, Kristy) Swearingen, in Elgin, IL, William C. “Bucky” (wife, Cindy) Scribner, of Camdenton, MO, Rocky (wife, Becky) Swearingen, of Lawrence, KS, a sister, Patsy (husband, Larry) Lehew, of Horton, KS,  eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Suzanne Swearingen.

The family will greet friends from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the mortuary.

The family suggests memorials in his name to the Leukemia Society or to the charity of the donor’s choice and may be sent in care of the mortuary.

20 Condolences

  1. Terri (Grubb) Kuss on August 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I just wanted to send my sincere sympathy to all of you. Our family is very saddened to hear of his passing.
    Tom was a very dear friend of my dad, Lyle Grubb. I know they had some great times as kids and adults, and my dad thought the world of him. Right before my dad passed away in January of 2010, Tom left a message on his cell phone. He knew that my dad had taken a turn for the worse, and though dad didn’t get to talk to him directly, we did hold up the phone to his ear, so he could hear Tom’s message to him. Tom left the nicest message, and I remember one of the last things he told my dad. He said “We’ll see you on the other side buddy”. I believe dad welcomed him, and they’ve probably had a laugh or two! You are in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Terri Kuss and family

  2. Joe LaRue Family on August 12, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    We will miss his smile and jokes along with all the talk of sheep and past adventures with his showing and ponies. He was like a father to every kid where he listened and understood our problems and encounters, giving the best advice fo your difficulties. We will miss him and hope that your loss will be remembered as a great man with a big heart for all where he was one of the greatest men we ever knew. We love you all and God bless.
    Love from all of us,
    Joe & Rena LaRue
    Jessie, Austin, & Macie Ortiz
    Justin, Heather, & Emma LaRue

  3. Beth Kelley on August 13, 2011 at 5:39 am

    It was a great honor to work with Tom at the Natural History Museum! He was the life blood of the Museum. His fabulous smile and firey eyes. Such an artist! Peace to his family!

  4. Ben Wessels on August 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Tom and families,
    Please accept my most sincere expression of sympathy to all. Tom, I know firsthand the importance of a father and the loss you feel now. Believe in your heart your father has gone on to a new place, a better place with God. May your father rest now in peace. Ben

  5. Laura & Joe Fix on August 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Dear Nancy & Family,
    Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Tom was a great person. He did so much for KU. His work leaves a wonderful memorial.
    Laura & Joe

  6. George Pisani on August 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I’m saddened to learn of Tom’s passing. Tom was a good person and a good friend, as well as the finest overall wildlife artist whose work I have seen.

    To the family, Peace and Good Memories.
    Warm regards,

  7. Gordon G.Gibbs "Corky" on August 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    To Family.
    Sorry to hear of Tommy’s
    passing. He was a good friend
    and one of the mile relay team
    of 1954 and 1955 with me. I was One of the class of 1955,”Corky”.

  8. Paula Smith on August 14, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I have such fond memories of Tommy from the summers when we played at Aunt Opal and Uncle Harry’s farm. His twinkling eyes and cheery smile are what stay with me when I think of him.

  9. Beth Rinaldi on August 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

    My sincere sympathy to Tom’s family. Tom’s great artistic talent, his love for the natural world, and his fun-loving personality will be deeply missed. There is not another like Tom!

  10. Marilyn Coleman on August 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I was so sorry to hear about Tom’s death. When someone dies whom you have known as long as I have known Tom, a bit of you is lost as well. He and Patsy shared a great deal of my childhood, and we teased each other unmercifully about many things, even though we seldom saw each other after we left Horton. I feel deprived of continuing to have those opportunties to tease and share childhood memories, and I cannot even imagine how deprived of his company and companionship those of you who interacted with Tom on a regular basis must feel.

  11. marilyn taylor zwirek on August 14, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I was so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. Know that you are all in my hearts..We knew Tom from the taylor farm..i was the youngest of the taylors…please take care

  12. Thomas H. Swearingen on August 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Virginia and Leonard Denk extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Thomas H. Swearingen. His family can be very proud of the active and productive life he lived.

  13. Joan Van Nice on August 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Sincere sympathy to all of you. Growing up in the neighborhood has left me with many fond memories. I remember babysitting with Tommy and Rocky and playing football in the yard. But the one memory that i will never forget is much more recent. I will never forget how funny it was that Tom bought that huge pile of rock when my folks had their sale. Did he ever get those rocks? He always had a smile.

  14. Cindy (Wilson) Glenn, Wiley & Marie Wilson on August 16, 2011 at 7:01 am

    We are so very sorry for your loss. May God Bless you and your family during this time of sorrow.

  15. Dean Dwigans, CAPT, JAGC, USN (Ret) on August 17, 2011 at 5:20 am

    My buddy Tom. As I write this I have a huge smile that only those who knew him would understand. It is because of the many great memories that come to mind, all involving his electric personality, intelligence and humor. I have never laughed as hard as I did with Tom. But at the same time he was a leader with integrity and a true professional. All that is a pretty unique mix — and that’s the Tom I knew. I’ll deeply miss the man I never got enough of. Take care my friend and my thoughts are with your family who you always talked about. Dean

  16. Tom & Kathy on August 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Rocky, Becky & family,
    We were so sorry to hear about your Dad. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Take care.
    Tom & Kathy Gillmore

  17. Ed & Jacki Loomis on August 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Tom and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. We did not know Tom well but we know his ponies, they leave a lasting legacy and we’ll long remember Tom for his work in breeding ponies.

  18. Benjamin Clay Jones on September 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I first became aware of Tom from seeing his name (“T. Swearingen”) on the track & field record board in the main hallway of Horton High for the mile relay. Thus I was somewhat in awe of him, as that record had stood for 20 years by then. Later met him as a KU student when I bumped into him on Jayhawk Boulevard one day in the fall of ’78 and he introduced himself. Not sure how he knew who I was, but my father, Bob Jones, had gone to high school with him. He was always full of life and always had a story to tell you with a definite perspective on it! I enjoyed our occasional random encounters on campus and now wished I had sought him out more. The last time I saw him was several years ago when he was honored with Horton High’s Distinguished Alumni Award at the Memorial Day weekend banquet, was introduced by his sister Patsy Lehew and told some stories of his life. Gone too soon.

  19. Barry Mordin on November 16, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    I am sorry to hear about Tom’s passing, I did not know until this year. Have not received any notice through the KU news. I would like to say he was a fine artist, if it was not for him I would not be the medical illustrator that I am. It was Tom as my mentor while at KU 1966-1970, he showed me how to draw and see things in a different light. The last time I saw Tom was when I brought my daughter out to see KU for college consideration. I still have one of his prints of Comanche. He will always be my inspiration to draw and be the best. Again, sorry to hear his passing.

  20. Jeff on June 6, 2024 at 2:47 pm

    I was saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. He helped me when I was in the darkest time in my life. I will never forget his kindness.
    Rest in peace Tom.

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