Tom Detwiler – UPDATED


Funeral services for 88-year old Tom Detwiler of Chadron, NE, are Thurs, Jan 11, 2024 at 10:00 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Chadron.

A Memorial has been established for the Tom & Lee Detwiler Scholarship Fund at Chadron State College. Flowers and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.

Online condolences may be left at

Thomas Patrick Detwiler was born on May 9, 1935 in Minden, NE, to Theodore and Mamie Detwiler. He passed away Jan 4, 2024, at Crestview Care Center in Chadron. 

Tom grew up on a farm near Kearney, NE, and after graduating from Kearney High School, he attended the University of Nebraska, subsequently receiving three degrees. 

In 1960, Tom married Lee Wombacher and they went on to have two daughters, Ann and Geri.

After graduating from the University, Tom taught English at Plattsmouth, Grand Island, and the UNL Extension Division while also serving as a substitute teacher in the Lincoln Public Schools.

In 1965, Tom joined the Chadron State College education faculty – a relationship that would last for 3 decades. For several years, he oversaw the first-year teachers who’d graduated from CSC, then served as director of student teaching for 21 years.

Tom traveled more than 300,000 miles while placing and supervising an estimated 2,500 student teachers. He was instrumental in developing what was cited as one of three Distinguished Programs in Teacher Education in the nation in 1981 by the Association of Teacher Educators.

Tom also was the chair of the Education and Psychology division for six years and chair of the Education Department for two years. He retired in 1994, but continued to supervise student teachers for several more years. 

In retirement he also chaired numerous school accreditation teams and served as the rural schools administrator for Dawes and Sioux County until those schools closed. When he finally retired for good, Tom’s career in education had spanned over 45 years. 

Tom was a member of several organizations, including the Nebraska Association of Teacher Educators, Lions Club, American Cancer Society, Chadron Federal Credit Union, Chadron Public Library Board, CSC Retired Faculty, and St Patrick’s Catholic Church Parish Council – serving as president or a board member of each.

His other affiliations included Phi Delta Kappa, Nebraska School Masters, NSEA, Job Corps Community Council, CSC Booster Club, Westerners Club, and the American Legion. 

Tom’s military career included several years in the enlisted active reserves, but in 1963 he was appointed a commissioned officer in the U-S Army Reserve, Adjutant General Corps. A fan of target shooting as a kid, he earned an Expert weapons rating with the M-1 rifle, which he attributed to his practice of hunting rodents on the family farm. 

An avid traveler, Tom and Lee visited all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, and several countries in Europe and South America. For over fifty-five years, he served as a lector in the Catholic Church. 

In 2022, Tom and Lee received both the Aksarben Good Neighbor Award and the prestigious Chadron State College Distinguished Service Award, the first time the latter had been awarded in 5 years.

Tom’s survivors include his wife Lee; daughters and sons-in-law Ann and Josh Jamison of Chadron and Geri and Del Dack of Paxton, NE; grandchildren Melissa Brown, Valerie/Marty Muthuswami, Josh/Amanda Dack, Mechelle/Avery Thomas, Justin Jamison, Taylor Dack, and Dylan Jamison; and great-grandchildren Brinly, Jayce, Arathana, Athavan, Everett, Violet, Miles. 

Tom was preceded in death by his parents Theodore and Mamie, and by grandson-in-law Ryan Brown.

Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron is in charge of arrangements for Tom Detwiler.