The Life of Tom Krebs

Thomas A. (Tom) Krebs died on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, from cancer and its complications. He was 70 years old.

Tom was born and raised in Wichita, KS, the son of John D. Krebs and Jeane Landry. He later moved to northeast Kansas, where he graduated from KU. Self-described hippies, Tom and several of his friends, including his older brother, Jack Krebs, and Jack’s wife, Jill Krebs, bought a piece of land in rural Jefferson County, where they built their homes. (At the insistence of Tom’s then-wife, Susan Knuth, they added indoor plumbing before their two children, Lydia Krebs and Will Krebs, arrived on the scene). Tom continued to apply his construction skills, eventually forming a two-man construction company. 

Tom was a lifelong educator and education advocate. After teaching junior high math and social studies and coaching basketball in Tonganoxie for more than a decade, he earned a Masters degree in Public Administration from KU, served on a local school board, and became the administrator of an alternative-learning academy. He then worked for the Kansas Association of School Boards until his retirement in 2016, first training board members across the state and then lobbying at the state legislature and in D.C. He remained active in retirement, pursuing a number of volunteer opportunities. He worked as a tutor at Topeka High School, and in 2018 was honored as a Champion of Character for his continued work with at-risk youth. Tom was currently serving on the Board for the Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL), working to protect and promote the well-being of children across the state. Most recently, Tom became a volunteer docent at the Topeka Zoo. There, he helped start a scholarship fund through KCSL for families who otherwise might not be able to afford to visit the zoo. 

Tom was also a lifelong music lover and a talented musician in his own right. After starting out as a drummer in junior high, he played guitar (and occasionally sang) in several local bands, and in his adult life became a fixture of Topeka’s live-music scene, both as a participant and as an observer. Tom traveled extensively and attended live-music shows across the country, often with his loving companion, Linda Carberry.  True to his educator roots, Tom also helped organize the annual Jam4Dan benefit concert, which funds music scholarships for area youth.

But most of all, Tom was, as so many people have said, a really good guy. He was kind and generous to his friends and family. He was smart, articulate, and knowledgeable about so much, especially education and the social causes he championed. He was personable and gregarious, could make friends with almost anyone, and was able to civilly yet forcefully discuss things with people with whom he disagreed. He was profoundly grateful for all that had been given him by life, and extremely empathetic about those who were not so fortunate, working all his life for the betterment of society in general.

He died at peace with the life he led, knowing that this was his one opportunity to make a difference, and he did in so many ways.

Tom is survived by his companion, Linda Carberry; his former wife and forever friend, Susan Knuth; Tom and Susan’s daughter, Lydia Krebs (and her fiancé, Magen Albert); and Tom and Susan’s son, Will Krebs (and his partner, Jennifer Whelchel), and their daughter, Tom’s granddaughter, Vivienne Krebs. He is also survived by his brother, Jack Krebs (and his wife, Jill Krebs), and their children, Tom’s niece, Holly Krebs (and her husband Brett Stoppel), and their children, Eli Krebs, Hazel Stoppel, and Emerson Stoppel; his nephew, David Krebs (and his wife Lee Davis); and his nephew, Jesse Krebs.

Memorial donations can be made to the Kansas Children’s Service League by mailing a check with Tom’s name in the memo line to KCSL at 3545 SW 5th, Topeka, KS 66606, or by donating online.

A celebration of life (with music!) will be held at a later date.

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9 Comments

  • judy meyer
    3 months ago

    Lovely and right on target. Thank you for this tribute to an amazing person.

  • Ray Parenteau
    3 months ago

    I was introduced to Tom via Linda, and we hit it off immediately. When he visited New England, he would bring his vintage Gibson. j-45 and we would jam and chat for hours. He introduced me to some new music that I still play today. The last time we played together was at Linda’s lake house in upstate New York. We had a grand time, playing in the middle of the lake in the pontoon boat, and then holding a 2-1/2 hour jam session in the all-wood upstairs room of the cottage, where the acoustics brought smiles to our faces. Later, on a brief visit, Tom attended “my” open mic and performed Angel From Montgomery to a very receptive audience, while wearing his signature turtleneck and jacket.
    I feel fortunate that I met and got to enjoy Tom’s company, even if it was ever so briefly. Reading his life accomplishments only adds to my wonder and sadness. I miss you already. Sir.

  • Lori Meens
    3 months ago

    Tom Krebs. No finer guy.

  • seveneightfive
    3 months ago

    Ray – Thank you, so much, for sharing that story. To be a fly on that wall. How fun!

  • Julie Gusman
    3 months ago

    My daughter Amee was a close friend of Tom’s. Amee told me how she considered Tom to be her mentor. Tom was always willing to give instruction and advice for her job as a teacher. Above all she considered him to be her wonderful friend referring to Tom as her “Topeka Dad. “. How wonderful that he touched so many lives.

  • Jennifer
    3 months ago

    Beautiful tribute for a beautiful soul.

  • Ray Bloxsom
    3 months ago

    Great tribute and even awesome legacy that he’s leaving he will be truly missed but never forgotten!!!

  • seveneightfive
    3 months ago

    Agree, Ray. Thank you for reading and all your support of music, people, the magazine and more. Cheers!

  • Lori
    2 months ago

    Hard to believe that Tom is actually gone…..

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