In Memory of





Obituary for Pamela Sue Thomas (Bell)

Pamela Bell Thomas was born September 1, 1951, at the Cheyenne County Hospital in St. Francis, KS, the only child of Clarence LaFollette Bell and Claribel (Shaw) Bell. She passed away May 13, 2023, at Swedish Medical Center, in Englewood, CO, at the age of 71 years and 265 days old.

Pam loved to learn, at two years old she began teaching herself to read and at four she was reading from encyclopedias. In the last year she began a course of Greek, so that she could read the Bible in its original form. She had the highest IQ ever recorded in Rawlins County and later became a member of Mensa, an organization of people of genius IQ or Higher. In her entire academic career, she never had anything but an A, even through college and two years of graduate school. She graduated from McDonald High School as Valedictorian in 1969.

The school year of 69-70 was spent at KU in honors classes in German and Russian (she thought she might become an interpreter at the UN.) Upon a change of heart, she decided that nursing would be her life course. Pam entered Ventura College in California, where she graduated at the top of her class in 1974, with a degree as a Registered Nurse. That year there were 10,000 new graduate RNs in California. Out of those, the California Nurses Association voted her as the new nurse with the most professional promise. She spent a year as a charge nurse/supervisor in the burn unit at the 360 bed St. John’s Hospital in Oxnard, California.

Family drew Pam back to Northwest Kansas and she came to Goodland as a staff/charge nurse at Northwest Kansas Regional Medical Center. In 1976-78 she taught medical/surgical procedures to LPNs at Colby Community College. Goodland Regional Medical Center called again, and she returned as the youngest Director of Nursing ever at that facility.

In 1981, Atwood Community Hospital called, and she became the Hospital Administrator in October of that year. Several years later she commented that her first day on the job they had one patient who subsequently died. Not a very auspicious beginning, but things were looking up and eventually there were four full-time physicians, a general surgeon doing surgery at least once a week and numerous specialists consulting.

In January, the Chairman of the Board and also a member of the Atwood Lions Club met Dan Thomas, also a club member, and suggested that he ask the new Hospital Administrator to give a program to the club as a means of introducing her to more people in the community. She gave an excellent program and afterwards Dan asked if she would like to go for a beer, which she declined. They did, however, go for coffee and stayed talking until the café closed at midnight. And so began a love affair that lasted for 41 years.

On May 1, 1982, while checking some late calving cows, Dan brought her a plum blossom and asked her to be his forever and she said yes. They were married at the All Faiths Chapel on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where she was obtaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in healthcare administration, on July 30, 1982. Since then, on every May 1st, if plum blossoms are available, or daisies if not, and every Valentines Day, Anniversary and Birthday, Dan has given her a basket of flowers.

After the wedding they made the grand circle around the Great Lakes to Niagara Falls, down to Cincinnati, where they rode The Beast, the tallest rollercoaster in the world (at the time), then to St. Lewis, Kansas City and home.

On May 1, 1987, she welcomed Ward to her home and her life as “Mom” for the rest of her life began. Son Alex was born April 18, 1989, and was baptized on the same day Ward graduated from Atwood High School.

During her tenure as Hospital Administrator, she guided the hospital through many changes in Medicare reimbursement, change from private to County hospital, headed the campaign for tax funding, introduced swing beds and many other innovative practices that are common today.

After her maternity leave, she decided to be just Mom and left outside the home employment. The next seventeen years she was teacher, bronze certified wrestling coach and help mate to Dan. She considered homeschooling Alex as one of her greatest achievements.

Pam loved the land and animals. She had a horse, Sha-lim, who lived to be 36 and died just three years ago. In addition, she loved music. She was an extraordinary pianist and was recruited by a college in California to apply for a scholarship to their music conservatory but felt that nursing was a higher calling.

In 2004, Lea Holste, Redeemer Lutheran Choir Director, called upon her to rescue the Christmas program. The regular pianist, in the later stages of pregnancy, was confined to bed rest and unable to continue. It was a week from the scheduled concert date and there were over 100 pages of difficult music to play. Pam looked it over and said she would give it a try. She practiced everyday almost continuously, and the concert went off without a hitch. Two years later she became the regular pianist and only missed one year because of surgery.

In 2002 she completed her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Kansas Summa Cum Laude, in the first ever online program, and made the traditional walk down the hill at graduation ceremonies. Finally completing her education without a grade less than an A.

In 2006 she joined Good Samaritan as a staff nurse and a year later became the Director of Nursing, a position she held until retirement in 2017.

Pam loved swimming, horseback riding and both water and snow skiing. She skied the expert slopes and back bowls of Colorado until arthritis with which she was diagnosed at four years old took its toll and things became too difficult. She refused to complain and always said, “If someone asks, ‘How are you?’, the correct answer is ‘Just fine’.” Which is why so few people knew that daily pain was just a fact of her life.

She left requests for her funeral, appropriately kept in the old piano bench along with specific requests of music. She said this, “Make my funeral a time of rejoicing for life I had on Earth, and for the life I have eternally with my Lord. Please say that I loved my God, my family and Gods creation. Please say that I delighted in the land and in animals and in music and in learning. I have tried to follow my Lord and His commandments, to love Him with all my soul and love my neighbor as myself and to model my life after the virtuous women in Proverbs 31 (there will undoubtedly be opinions from those I leave behind). Remember that I loved life while looking forward with assurance to eternal life and remember that “All can follow me thru faith” John 3:14-18.

Pam leaves to mourn her passing her husband Dan Thomas, McDonald, KS; son Alex (Elizabeth) Thomas and their children, Saphira Thomas, Daniel Jerran Thomas and Arsen Ernst, of McDonald; son Ward (Tanya) Thomas, of Carl Junction, MO and their children, Lucretia (Johnathon) Milbers, Beloit, KS, Ean Thomas, Denver, CO, Natalee (Brandon) Jones, Lawrence, KS, Nathan Thomas, Hays, KS, Shiloh Thomas, Joplin, MO, Mario Thomas and Gabriel Thomas, Carl Junction, MO; great granddaughters, Aira and Ada; sisters-in-law Cindy (Bob) Siegel, Bellaire, TX and Jackie Yobbagy, Ebensburg, PA; nieces, Jennifer Siegel, Houston, TX, Lauren Siegel, New York, NY and Isabella Yobbagy, Pittsburgh, PA.

Visitation is 5-7:00 p.m. Sunday, May 21, 2023, at Baalmann Mortuary, Atwood. Funeral Service is 10:00 a.m. Monday, May 22, 2023, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Atwood, KS, with burial in Fairview Cemetery, Atwood. Memorials may be made to the church and sent in care of Baalmann Mortuary, PO Box 391, Colby, KS 67701. For information or condolences visit