March 13, 1932 – April 11, 2019
Thomas A. Witty Jr., 87, passed away on April 11, 2019, after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's. Tom was born at Wesley Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, on March 13, 1932, to Thomas Sr. and Lela Witty. Tom lived in Wichita, Joplin, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma before moving to Lincoln in 1943. He graduated from Lincoln High in 1950 and attended the University of Nebraska before serving in the Army. He earned his bachelor's degree from Nebraska (1958) and his master's degree (1960).
Following graduation Tom enjoyed a distinguished career as an archeologist. He was named the first Kansas state archeologist in 1960. During his 34-year career he authored over 130 archeology publications and developed the The Kansas Anthropologist Journal. He designed and supervised construction of the Pawnee Indian Village Museum (Republic) in 1967, one of the first archeological museums in the United States and restored the ruins of El Quartelejo (Lake Scott State Park) in 1970; the only known pueblo in the State of Kansas. He developed the Kansas Anthropology Association Field School (1975) and hosted the television instructional series for Washburn University in Topeka – The Land, Time and People (1977).
He was instrumental in drafting legislation in Kansas to preserve archeological sites and was presented the Historic Preservation Award from Kansas Governor Joan Finney following his retirement (1994). He was presented the Distinguished Service Award from the Plains Anthropological Society (2007). Tom spent 16 years of his retirement at the Combat Air Museum in Topeka as the primary exhibit designer and returned to Lincoln in July, 2009, where he spent the reminder of his life.
Tom and his wife, Mary Anne, who resides in Lincoln, were married on August 22, 1954, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Lincoln.
He is survived by his son, David (Carla), daughter, Linda (Conrad) and four grandchildren: Erika, Scott, Kurt and Brett.
A family celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, April 16, in Lincoln. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Alzheimer's Association, 1500 S. 70th Street, Suite 201, Lincoln, NE 68506. www.bmlfh.com