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1945 Ronny 2022

Ronny E. Thuma

April 26, 1945 — January 31, 2022

Ronny E. “Ron” Thuma of Hartford passed away peacefully at his home on January 31st, 2022 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 76 years old.

Ron was born April 26, 1945 in Wichita to Donald and Myrtle (Lewis) Thuma. He graduated from Andover High School and then Pittsburgh State University with a Master of Science in Industrial Technology. Ron taught shop classes in Carbondale, Hartford, and Burlington before taking a job at the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge in 1977. He worked as a jack-of-all-trades there for the next 36 years. He implemented and oversaw the Youth Conservation Corps program which provided summer employment for high school students through project based learning activities such as trail building and invasive plant control. One fondly remembered quote from him was “Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and giggle a lot.” He was a firm believer in educating youth and touched many lives through teaching and his work with this program. He also developed and implemented a recycling program at the refuge which was recognized with the 2009 Interior Environmental Achievement Award by the United States Department of the Interior. He was the only recipient working outside of a team to be honored. He retired from the refuge in 2012.

Ron had many interests and pursuits. He enjoyed working on old cars, listening to live music, including attending all but two Walnut Valley Music Festivals in 49 years, and studying history, including extensive family genealogy as well as the history of his home and the city of Hartford in general. He also served his community as a volunteer firefighter for 35 years, as mayor for 14 years, and served as a board member on the Lyon County Historical Society.

Ron was perhaps best known for his garden. He learned to garden as a child with his father and started his garden in Hartford in 1979, eventually expanding it to encompass almost the entirety of his large yard. He kept his garden in meticulous condition with all the plants in perfect rows and never a weed to be found using only organic gardening techniques. He grew hundreds of varieties of different vegetables over the years. He joined the Seed Savers Exchange and become one of the first Lifetime Members in 1984. He started his seed collection with a few family heirlooms and steadily added to it over the years eventually listing over 275 heirloom varieties in the Exchange and stewarding countless others in his garden.

Most of all, Ron will be remembered by his family for being jolly, with a quick smile and a wonderful, chuckling laugh. He took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and found joy in spending time with his grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.

Ron was preceded in death by his parents as well as his brother, Jim, and wife, Joyce (Neeley). He is survived by his ex-wife and longtime friend Pam, his three sons, Roger, Jeremy (Michelle), and Josh (Whitney), his daughter, Sarah (Jason) Hallinan, and his eight grandchildren, Candace, Artem, Kaleb, Noah, Ayden, Will, Kate, and Ellie.
The family would like to thank all of his caregivers, especially Chelsis Andrews, for taking such wonderful care of him as his memory and health declined.

A memorial service is being planned and details will be announced in the future.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Lyon County Historical Society or The Seed Savers Exchange and sent in care of the Jones VanArsdale Funeral Home, P.O. Box #43. Lebo, Kansas 66856. Condolences may be expressed at

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

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Hartford Cemetery

, Hartford, KS 66854

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