Thomas M. Stidham

Thomas Marvin Stidham, 78, conducted his final coda Oct. 1, 2019 at Bridge Haven in Lawrence. He was born Dec. 31, 1940, in Sylva, North Carolina, the son of Joe and Lois Stidham.

Tom grew up with brother Charles (DeeDee) and sister Sally Clair (Earl). He attended school in Lake Placid, Florida where grade cards often remarked that “Tommy ate a good lunch.” After graduating from Lake Placid High School, Tom attended the University of Florida where he received a BFA in 1962 and a M.Ed in 1965.

He returned to Lake Placid High School in 1962 where he began his band directing career and married the “preacher’s daughter,” Linda Spillman on June 14, 1963. They recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary.

Tom was director of bands at Paxon Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida, Georgia Southern College in Statesboro, Georgia and Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He arrived at the University of Kansas in 1975 to assist his friend, Robert E. Foster, in administering the KU Band and Midwestern Music Camp programs.

Tom was involved in every aspect of the KU Band program until his retirement in 2012. For many years, he organized the KU Band Day and was also the longtime director of the men’s basketball band. Trombone was his instrument and he played many professional gigs but was also in demand as a guest conductor and clinician.

Tom believed in f-words – faith, family and food. He was a committed Christian and lived his faith everyday with everyone he met. He was a member of First Southern Baptist Church and served many years as the director of music.

One could not spend much time with Tom without seeing how proud he was of his family. He bragged about them shamelessly! He worked into nearly any conversation that his wife Linda, was a dedicated and talented teacher; first born Mark had a wonderful natural musical talent; Tom shared a passion for football with coach son Scott and if you darkened the doors of St. Luke’s hospital in Kansas City, you could be sure that he would have his favorite nurse, daughter Marci, drop by your room.

When he arrived at KU, the KU Band instantly became part of his extended family. He maintained an open door policy and it was rare not to find a student, staff member or faculty member sitting in a chair by his desk, gaining his undivided attention. He always had time to listen and had a strong desire to solve other people’s problems.

It was not unusual to hear him say to both male and female band students, “You look like I need a hug!” His sense of humor framed everything that he did and he was one of those rare folks that enjoyed laughing even when he was the brunt of the joke. Storytelling was his forte and he practiced it often to the delight of his audience.

Tom loved to cook and delighted in having a houseful of people to feed. He was accomplished with a grill and smoker and was proud to be a certified KCBS barbecue judge. Holidays will not be the same without a turkey and/or ham smoked by Tom.

His homemade ice cream was unrivaled and favorites such as chocolate pecan, cinnamon, tutti fruitti and peppermint were enjoyed after many a meal in his home.

Tom held professional memberships in ABA, KBA, TBS, KKPsi, CBDNA, NBA and The Friday Night Club.

Tom is survived by his soul mate, Linda; sons, Mark (Mary Cello) and Scott (Stacy); daughter, Marci (Dave); and grandchildren, Landry, Nolan, Nash, Chloe, Kennedy, Abigale and Caroline.

The family suggests in lieu of flowers that memorial gifts be made to the Tom Stidham KU Band Scholarship fund sent in care of KU Endowment, 1891 Constant Ave., Lawrence, KS 66047, and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044.

The family would like to express immense gratitude to the staff at Bridge Haven and Avalon Hospice for the professional and loving care that Tom received during his months there. He went there as “the new guy” and left as family.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Oct. 12, 2019 at First Southern Baptist Church, 4300 W. 6th. A visitation will be held from 12:30–2 p.m. and service at 2 p.m.

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Tom often expressed a desire to be buried at sea but as an avid Jayhawk, in the end, donated his body to KU Medical Center. A life well lived.

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