Thomas R. Werner, 83, of Russell, Kansas, passed away Sunday, December 24, 2023 at the Hays Medical Center in Hays, Kansas.
Tom was born on June 13, 1940 on the family farm near Sabetha, Kansas. He was one of eight children born to Martin Joseph and Mary K. (Grewing) Werner. In approximately 1943 the family moved to a farm in rural Kincaid, Kansas. The remainder of Tom’s childhood was spent in the Kincaid area and he graduated from Kincaid High School in 1958. Tom went on to serve his country in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1964, and was stationed in Berlin East Germany. Tom’s life on the farm growing up was a hard existence, through which he developed a strong work ethic early on that stayed with him and served him throughout the rest of his life. After the Army, he worked as an Asphalt Paver and felt honored to have taken part in the construction of Interstate 70 in western Kansas. It was during this time that he met and fell in love with Judith Annette Zigler, and they were united in marriage on November 25, 1966 in Russell, Kansas. This union was blessed with three children; Michael, Allen, and Heather. Later on in life, Tom and Judy were divorced.
Tom began working at Zigler Well Servicing, first as a floorhand, then as a driver, and purchased the company in the early 1970s, where he remained the owner and operator until he sold the business in the early 1990’s. Tom moved back to eastern Kansas for a few years before returning to Russell. Tom was a lifetime member and Past Post Commander of the Russell V.F.W. Post #6240, where he also served several years on the House Committee, as well as having the honor to serve under Norman Staab during Staab’s term as the V.F.W.’s National Commander. This affiliation with service was of great importance in his life and he impressed upon his sons the importance of service. His sons joined that legacy serving in combat, Allen in multiple Naval actions and Michael as an Army officer in Desert storm. He also was a member of the Russell Shrine. Tom showed his children the values of steadfastness, strength of character and perseverance, and while proud of Mike and Allen’s military service, Tom took at least as much pride in his daughter Heather who put herself through college and ultimately earned her place as an attorney with the Kansas Bar. Tom was an extremely adaptable man and often one of very few words, but always managed at the correct time to let those around him know that he loved them. An accurate description of Tom would be he was “completely unbothered”. He rolled with what life gave him and did so without complaint. Tom was also fun-loving, and whether it was family gatherings with the eight siblings, meetings with his V.F.W. comrades, or hanging out at the “round table” for coffee, there was often a good laugh involved. He was known for his generosity, often putting the comfort and happiness of others above his own. He was an avid sports fan. If you tried calling him in the midst of a Nottre Dame football game there was a good chance your call might go unanswered; and this was also the guy who would pay for a cable upgrade just for the months of the NCAA tournament. In his later years he lived a quiet and simple life, and he loved every minute of it.
Surviving family include his daughter, Heather Fletcher (John) of Russell, Kansas; sons, Michael Werner (Becca) of Coopertown, Tennessee and Allen Werner (Jennifer) of Alvin, Texas; former-wife, Judy Werner of Russell, Kansas; brother, Leo Werner (Vicki) of Newton, Kansas; sister Delores Smith of Topeka, Kansas; six grandchildren, Amanda Werner, Corey Werner (Amber), Sarah Werner, Sean Werner, Thomas Justice Becker, and Jessica Sudlow (Ryan); six great grandchildren; and a host of nieces and nephews.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Maurice “Bill” Werner, Martin “Pete” Werner, Jr., and Kenneth “Kenny” Werner; and two sisters, Martha “Joann” Houk and Cynthia J. Osborn.
Celebration of Tom’s Life will be held at 11:00 AM, Thursday, January 4, 2024 at Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary of Russell. A private family burial of ashes will follow at a later time. No Visitation being held, cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers the family is suggesting donations to Russell V.F.W. Post #6240 in Tom’s name. Condolences may be sent to Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary, who is in charge of these arrangements.