Tommy Ellis Beal
June 24, 1930 – January 30, 2019
Tommy (Tom) Ellis Beal, 88, died peacefully at home surrounded by family on January 30, 2019 from Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Melinda Lewi Beal of Prairie Village, Kansas; his son, Perry Beal, and his wife, Jeannine Chalfant Beal, of Overland Park, Kansas; his son, Christopher Beal, and his partner, Tim Van Zandt, of Kansas City, Missouri; and his daughter, Elizabeth Beal Kissick, and her husband, Mark Kissick, of Cohasset, Massachusetts. He is also survived by his grandsons, Alexander and Jackson Beal and Jake and Coleman Kissick, and his granddaughters, Hope Kissick and Jillian Beal, as well as 10 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Kathryn and Ellis Beal; his brother, Jack Lewis Beal; and his sisters, Mary Ann Beal Bingham and Patricia Ruth Beal. He also leaves his animal companions, his dog, Ruthie, and his cat, Frankie.
Tom was born in Harper, Kansas on June 24th, 1930. He was educated in Harper schools and was proud to be from Harper and to be a Kansan. From an early age he knew the value of hard work. At the age of 12, he was shining shoes on the sidewalks of Harper. At 14, he pumped gas at Hoover’s gas station. When he was 16, he worked at Haskin’s pharmacy. As a young man, he served in the United States Army Reserves.
Tom was also proud to be a Pitt State Gorilla. He graduated from Pittsburg State in 1952. In 1989, Tom received the Meritorious Achievement Award from Pittsburg State University Alumni Association.
Following college, Tom worked briefly for Continental Oil Company (Conoco) in Kansas City, Missouri. Corporate life did not work for him as he had to do it “his way.” He moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where he sold radio advertising for KLWN and was known as the “Duke of Massachusetts” because of his success at selling radio ad time in downtown Lawrence. While working at KLWN, Tom met Tom Maupin who had founded Maupintours. Mr. Maupin encouraged Tom to have his own radio station, which led him to put together a group of investors for a new radio station in Mission, Kansas.
KBKC went on the air in 1957. One of the largest advertisers was Macy’s, whose president was Alexander G. Lewi. Mr. Lewi respected Tom’s business sense – and he had a daughter who was looking for a job. Tom hired Melinda Lewi as his music librarian. He soon asked her to be Mrs. Beal. They were married on September 6, 1958.
A few short years later, Tom sold his station at a significant profit and he used those proceeds to invest in various businesses over the years. For more than 10 years, he was president of Florida Realty, which had offices throughout the Midwest that marketed several communities in the Sunshine State. He also purchased several apartment complexes and an office building in the Kansas City area. Tom even got into the campground business for a decade through his purchase of a Jellystone Resort in Cuba, Missouri.
In 1991, Tom decided to return to the radio broadcasting business through the purchase of KJLA (later known as KFEZ). Once again, it was a family business. Melinda joined him as the chief programmer, and their son Perry was the sales director. Tom sold the station in the late 1990s.
Tom’s hard work and business acumen were driving forces throughout his life. Even with his success, he still would say, “I’m just from Harper.” He scaled back his business ventures in later years, but he never retired.
Tom believed in giving back to the community. He served on both business and community organization boards, including: UMB, Starlight Theater, Junior Achievement, Southgate Bank, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, St. Luke’s Foundation, and the Symphony in the Flint Hills. He was a past president of Rotary Club 13, and a member of the steering committee for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to Pittsburg State University and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, he was a supporter of the Kemper Museum and efforts to restore Union Station. In earlier years, Tom was a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the World Business Council (WBC).
Tom’s involvement in local and national activities encompassed more than business and philanthropic endeavors. He was an active member of the Village Presbyterian Church, where he served as a deacon, elder and trustee. Tom was a lifelong Republican and served as a delegate to the 1988 GOP Convention and as an alternate to the 1984 GOP Convention. He also helped various GOP candidates over the years. Tom was a member of the Mission Hills Country Club and a past member of the Carriage Club and Indian Hills Country Club.
Tom was a dapper dresser and truly enjoyed a good party. He was always eager to open his home to guests. If the event benefited an important civic or political cause, that was even better.
Family life was important to Tom. He made sure to instill a strong work ethic in his children, and delighted in spending time with his grandchildren. He enjoyed travel, especially to his home in Naples, Florida, and, in earlier years, to his home in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and to the Broadmoor in Colorado.
Tom was larger than life. He strongly believed that with hard work and determination, anything is possible for anyone regardless of background.
Services will be held at Village Presbyterian Church located in Prairie Village on Monday February 4th, 2019 at 11am.
The family requests no flowers, but memorial contribution may be made to Saint Luke’s Home Care and Hospice c/o Saint Luke’s Foundation; 901 East 104th Street; Mail Stop 100 South; Kansas City, MO 64131 or to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts at 1601 Broadway Blvd.; Kansas City, MO 64108.
The family would like to thank Carly, Ron, Shandan, Vi and Charlotte for the care they gave to Tom during his illness.
- Funeral Service Monday, February 4, 2019
Tommy Ellis Beal
Carole Collister Watkins Love Kelly
February 3, 2019
Tom Beal was truly larger than life, but also a thoughtful caring man. He gave me a job at Three Fountains in the 80's when I really needed it. I will never forget that. Tom Maupin, whose mother was a mother to me , was very involved in Tom Beal's life and I am glad to see the acknowledgement in his obit.
Linda, my heart goes out to you. I have always said Elizabeth had the best Girl Scout leader and the MOST beautiful house to have it in. Your generosity through the years puts a large star in your crown.
You both came to my Dad's funeral and I will be forever greatful
Our girls grew up in a magic time . I'm so glad we got to share it. God Bless you and Tom, Carole