Former Arkansas City High School teacher Thomas Bartel died Dec. 5 at the age of 69.

Viewing and visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at Rindt-Erdman Funeral Home, located at 100 E. Kansas Ave.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at Central Christian Church, located at 206 W. Central Ave.

Students remember Bartel

Bartel was many things — retired science teacher, Sunday school teacher, deacon, elder, choir member. (He sang in a deep baritone voice with his wife, Jan.)



Most recently, Bartel worked at Walmart, fixing bicycles.

One of his former students, David Pond, remembered him as a having a great passion for science.

Bartel taught earth and space science at the high school, lecturing about rocks and minerals.

He often used his own pictures and rocks to show students in person what they were learning.

Another former student, Gareth McGee, recalls learning about the stars from Bartel.

“He took time out of his life (for students),” McGee said. “We learned about the stars while standing under them.”

“I remember when Gareth and I were sophomores, we would eat lunch in his classroom,” Pond said. “It was a real comfortable place to hang out and relax.”

Bartel had students track their own grades closely enough that they could be calculated from day to day. “He taught us responsibilities,” Pond said.

Disability didn’t slow him down

Bartel was disabled at a young age. Pond recalled him teaching from a wheelchair. “(Bartel) had been in a wheelchair since 5,” Pond said.

Bartel was riding in the back seat of a car when the door flew open. He fell out and his legs were run over by the car.

“While he was in the hospital, his grandmother tried to tickle his toes, but he couldn’t feel anything,” Pond recounted.

Ever since, Bartel used canes to get around part of the time, but he also relied on a wheelchair. It never slowed him down, though.

Tom meets Jan

“Tom told us the story about how he met his wife,” Pond continued.

The pair knew each other prior to being in a romantic relationship together.

When they met in Manhattan in the ’70s, Jan was married to one of Bartel’s friends, but they divorced some time later.

“He said he was sitting at home by himself one day, (and decided to) call Jan,” Pond said.

The couple later built the home in which they lived.

Mournful memories

Friends, colleagues, and former students shared condolences and stories online and with Ark City Daily Bytes on Dec. 6, after learning of Bartel’s death.

Matthew Metzinger

“Not a theory, but indeed fact!” I can remember hearing Mr. Bartel, one of my favorite high school teachers, say during a classroom lesson.

Not because I had an inclination for the sciences and he was my Earth Sciences teacher did he hold my attention.

He had a genuine interest in not only his students’ education, but in their formation as individuals.

His classroom was always open, he was always welcoming, and always had a minute to listen and converse with everything from the mysteries of the cosmos to the realities of high school life.

Every mind was valued and my time in Mr. Bartel’s class is one of my most joyful high school memories. He had that infectious joy for life.

I had the great opportunity to reconnect with Mr. Bartel later in life at our local Walmart.

He spent time assembling bikes and trikes for youth of all ages. I told him I went to college and kept my interest in science of Earth, Space, and Information Technology.

I thanked him for helping me on my road to a fun career in science.

That moment felt like being back in his class all those years ago.

He had that same joyful laugh and smile, popping a wheelie in his wheelchair, riding off into the sunset on his metal steed.

Godspeed, Mr. Bartel, and looking forward to meeting again on the other side!

Ashlee Tomsche

Mr. Bartel was a man who truly cared about making sure his students had a memorable educational experience each time they entered his classroom.

I had the pleasure of being in his class my freshman and sophomore year of high school.

Now, if you know me, you would know that I was not a fan of science. Well, that was until I took classes with Mr. Bartel.

He gave us such a hands-n experience in learning about the different areas of science, by doing experiments and making us think outside the box.

I also remember that he would sit outside his classroom, and greet each and everyone us as we entered his class, or was just walking to another class.

To me, that meant the world because he truly cared about each and every one of his students.

After he retired from teaching, I would see him from time to time around town and he still remembered me, and we would just catch up on our lives.

This man will be truly missed by so many, and he is one of my many teaching inspirations and one of the reasons I want to go into teaching.

His legacy, his love for his students, family and science will forever live on.

Gareth McGee

In his classroom, he provided education the way it was supposed to be — hands-on and practical.

To this day, I still make use of the tools he provided to me — through my education — to think through a problem thoroughly.

He connected with his students on a personal level and encouraged independent thinking.

Christopher Paul Taylor

Mr. Bartel was an amazing teacher and one of the inspirations for my enduring curiosity of things in this world. He will be greatly missed.

Michael Brown

He was a truly a great man and teacher, always with a smile on his face.

I worked with him at Walmart and he was my teacher in high school, as well.

Will be truly missed. My heart goes out to his family. May our ancestors watch over him. Till we meet again, my friend….

Robert Reed

Tom was one of my favorite teachers. He was also a great friend, and most recently my co-worker at Walmart.

We talked every day, and he always made me smile.

I was trying to talk him into coming out to our place to view stars one night out here at the farm. I think I had him almost convinced to come out.

We last spoke on Friday when he was leaving work. Never in my life did I expect that would be the last time we spoke. I’m heartbroken!

Rest in Peace, my dear friend. You no longer need a telescope to see the beautiful stars from Heaven!