Thomas Lee Schabel
April 9th, 1945 - November 21st, 2020
Tom Schabel spent the last 18 years of his life feeding his friends and family, taking care of the place, playing cards and lending a hand to everyone he could. The loss of his kindness will be felt widely.
Born the third child of Bob and Wanda Schabel in Independence, Kansas, Tom leaves behind a legacy of family, friends and hard work. He will be missed by: his devoted wife Dianne, their two sons and their families - Tom, Angie, Kristin and Alyssa Schabel of Sunnyvale, Texas, and Tim, Carmen, Audrey, Kaley, Luke and Maggie of Aledo, Texas; his mother, Wanda Schabel of Independence; his brothers Bill, Charlie, Joe and Tony and sister Joyce Bucci, and their families; his mother in law Lola Gillham and brother in laws Bob and Steve Gillham, 2 dogs and a yard full of cats. He is preceded in death by his father Bob Schabel and sister Judy.
Tom grew up in Caney and Independence in a time when families worked hard just to be poor. He had mud ball fights with his brothers and carried a mischievous grin throughout his youth. During his life, he rarely grew tired of time with his mom, dad, brothers and sisters.
Dianne fell in love with Tom in the second grade and they were married 56 years. Tom wanted to see the world so he dropped out of high school and joined the Air Force. He served in support of Strategic Air Command B-52’s … out of Nebraska and Montana. After bouncing around the belly of B-52’s with nukes he preferred driving to flying for the rest of his life. Tom and Dianne married on August 24th, 1964 and started a family. After the Air Force, Tom was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in Engineering something or another from Pittsburg University. While in school, he supported his young family in Independence by roofing houses, loading trucks for Guy’s Potato Chips and working one summer at City Service with his dad.
Out of college, Tom went to work for Conoco, laying seismograph cable in the oil fields of Oklahoma. When they transferred his team to Pecos, Texas, Tom opted to go to work for Dresser Atlas in Odessa with his friend Jim. Dianne says Tom took one look at Pecos and just couldn’t see bringing his family there. They raised Tom and Tim in West Texas.
Tom was a company man and spent his entire management and executive career with one employer. Dresser expanded, contracted and changed names for the next 30 years of Tom’s life. In that time, his family lived in Odessa, TX, Hobbs, NM, Sonora, TX, Midland, TX, Corpus Christi, TX, Hobbs, NM, Plano, TX, Oklahoma City, and Bridgeport, WV. Wherever Tom and the family moved, they returned every summer and Christmas to family in Montgomery County. This was how he spent his vacations. When Tom retired at 57, Dresser Atlas had become Baker Hughes and he and Dianne were in West Virgina while their son Tom and his family were in Texas, and Tim was married in Oregon.
Tom and Dianne decided to return to their roots and settled on some acreage near their hometowns. They filled their days with friends, family and work around the place. Tom’s grandchildren have been enriched with memories of times at Nina and Grandpa’s. They’ve learned to fish on his pond, shoot guns in his yard and drive trucks in his fields. They’ll remember Kansas summer days, pancakes in the kitchen and fireworks over the pond with Grandpa’s friends.
Tom always had plenty of food for plenty of guests. He looked forward to serving the community by frying fish and cooking chili with the Lion’s Club in Caney. He enjoyed fishing Shawn’s ponds, building burn piles with Josh and breakfast with the veterans. Tom flew a flag in his back yard and kept the light on for the one on his front porch. He wrecked almost every car or truck he owned. He could fix just about anything and would remember every trick in a hand of spades. His family and friends know he loved them, but he didn’t use a lot of words; there were somethings you just didn’t talk about. If you asked, he’d let you fish on his pond.
He thought his boys married really, really well and loved his daughters in law, Angie and Carmen. He was happy his grandkids were “better than him.” He loved hearing Audrey’s thoughts, making breakfast with Kaley, fishing with Luke and eating ice cream with Maggie. Kristin made him smile and Alyssa made him think. He created a great place for them to vacation.
Family mattered to Tom as did taking care of his friends. He learned to let you help him. Virtue grows on some people and it did on Tom. You could say he grew up, grew old and grew happy around here. It was good to be around Tom.
Visitation will be held at Potts Chapel in Independence on Tuesday, November 24th from 5-7 pm. Funeral services will take place at Tyro Christian Church in Tyro on Wednesday, November 25th at 2:00 pm with interment immediately following at Harrisonville Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made in Tom’s name to the Caney Lions Club. To leave the family a special message of condolence, please visit www.pottsfuneralhome.com.