2016-12-01 / Obituaries

Thomas Kirn

Thomas Michael Kirn was born Sept. 29, 1933, on the family farm near Solomon, Kan., to Louis and Irene Shanahan Kirn.

He passed away peacefully on Nov. 24, 2016, surrounded by family. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Marjorie, Jacqueline and Raymond.

Throughout his childhood he worked on the family farm. He left farming for the Army, serving in the 181st Signal Corps in South Korea during and immediately following the Korean War. He was a decorated veteran who received the National Defense, Honorable Service and United Nations Service medals.

He graduated from Creighton University in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He married Mary Ellen Joyce on Nov. 19, 1960. Tom and Mary Ellen “saw the USA,” crisscrossing the country in service with the Bureau of Reclamation, Federal Highways Administration, Army Corps of Engineers and National Park Service.

Tom’s work facilitated important water and defense projects and National Park Service sites. On behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation, he acquired land for South Dakota’s Oahe Dam, California’s San Luis Reservoir and the never-built Auburn Dam. His Army Corps work helped establish the Minute Man Missile cold war installations in the Great Plains, and later, military base closures throughout the American west.

On behalf of the National Park Service, he acquired land to establish the Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial, Apostle Islands and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshores, and transfer of private inholdings in Yosemite National Park to public lands.

A child of the Depression, Tom loved self-sufficiency. Perhaps his greatest joy was fishing with his children, catching walleye or Northern Pike in Minnesota, sunfish and bluegill in ponds wherever he could find them, salmon in Alaska and trout in California.

Tom is survived by Mary Ellen, his wife of 56 years; children Michael (Kathleen Buchnoff), Laura (Paul Pyle), Patrick (Marjorie), Daniel, Mary Kay Cruz and Amy Cannon; grandchildren Jefferson and Anna Laird, Nicholas, Shannon and McKenzie Kirn, Kevin Isaah Long, William and Mary Jane Cruz; and many nieces and nephews.

A viewing will be at 10:30 a.m., followed by Funeral Mass at 11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 2 at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mariposa.

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