John Arnold
1940 - 2019
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John E. Arnold, 79, Topeka, Kansas, passed away unexpectedly on October 4, 2019.

John was born on January 4, 1940, in Atchison, Kansas to George and Iva "Audrey" Bailey Arnold. A graduate of Atchison High School, he enjoyed performing in the band, playing basketball, and running track. High school classmates remain dear friends today.

John started a life of service by answering the call from JFK, joining the Peace Corps and serving in the Philippines from 1962-1964. That experience shaped his life, but most importantly, led to him meeting his wife Kaye. They were married in 1965. Kaye preceded him in death in 2007

John was a passionate Jayhawk, graduating from KU with a bachelor's in liberal arts in 1962 and a master's degree in public administration in 1965.

During John's service in local government, he was recognized as a pioneer and innovator. His career took him around the country, from Atchison, to Texarkana, Texas, Titusville, Florida, and Little Rock, Arkansas. John served as City Manager in Minot, North Dakota from 1972-1977, Fort Collins, Colorado from 1977-1985, and Eureka, California from 1992-1996. He was the first Executive Director of the E-470 Authority that built the E-470 highway in Denver. John served as Chief Administrative Officer in Topeka from 1998 until retirement in 2002.

John was proud of his legacy in the places he lived, but also treasured the connections he made working together with Mayors and City Councilmembers, city staff, colleagues, and community members. He kept in touch with people regularly, sometimes with an emailed article, news clipping, or his own commentary.

During retirement, John focused on his passions: becoming a published author, playing golf, enjoying food and drink with friends, traveling often to visit family, and following Kansas basketball.

As a drummer, guitarist, and improvisational pianist, John instilled a love of music in his family. He also enjoyed sports whether shooting baskets or throwing a football with his sons, playing a game of golf whenever he could, watching the Sunday football game, or sailing on his boat, the Jayhawk. John and Kaye also loved to dance, a talent that unfortunately skipped a generation.

John is survived by his sons, Jay (Mary Beth) and L.T.; granddaughters, Audrey, Carmen, and Scarlett; dear friend and companion, Judy Morris. He will be dearly missed by cousins, nieces, in-laws, and friends here and around the country.

Memorial service will be 4 p.m. Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home, 2801 SW Urish Road, Topeka KS 66614, with visitation half an hour prior.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to KU School of Public Administration or the Midwest Boxer Rescue, sent in care of the funeral home.

Condolences may be sent online to www.kevinbrennanfamily.com.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Oct. 13, 2019.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
NOV
9
Memories & Condolences
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33 entries
November 8, 2019
We were shocked and saddened to learn of John's untimely death and offer our sincere condolences to his sons and other family. We first met John in the Kucimat program a KU and stayed in touch through the years of honing our city management skills. I always appreciated his calm advice. We got better acquainted socially with he and Kaye as our professional paths crossed in the Kansas City area. She was a wonderful person and her loss was difficult to bare. In the last several years we spent many good times together as participants in the retired city managers group formed by Dave Warren. We always thought of John as our group's intellectual heart, favorite author and great friend. We miss his kindness, humor, wit and wonderful deep and persuasive voice. God speed, John, from Brenda and I, and all your retired city manager friends...(yes, John, I realize city manager should not be used as an adjective :-)).
John Laney
Friend
November 7, 2019
I worked for and more importantly with John when he was in Fort Collins. I was a young green planner with a lot of crazy ideas. John took a chance on me and I have been eternally grateful. During my time with John he instilled two key management thoughts that I have used throughout my career and certainly contributed to success. First, he always told me and other staff members to think outside the box and don't be afraid to make mistakes, just don't make the same one twice. Numerous times he had to reign me in, but in many other he let me go with ideas way outside the box. Second, he would always tell us to bring him solutions not problems. People who have worked for me over the years got tired of hearing me use this approach, but it works at getting problems solved. Thank you John. You will be missed.
Curt Smith
Coworker
November 7, 2019
I first met John first through the stories of those with whom he had worked. They were stories of a risk - taker, an inspiring leader, and someone people genuinely liked and respected. When I met him in person he lived up to those stories and more. He was always someone with a big idea for how to make things better and a willingness to go for it. He is missed. My condolences to the the family. I am sorry for your loss.
Karma Ruder
Friend
November 1, 2019
Peaceful Passage Arrangement
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Jack Sears
October 30, 2019
Such sad news. John and I went to school together. He recently took me to another classmate's funeral and to lunch. He was the best dancer. My sincere condolences.
Marge Kinzer
Classmate
October 23, 2019
I had the opportunity to work with John in Fort Collins from 1977-81. John was my boss, mentor and friend. Our families enjoyed times socializing and taking part in many City activities.
During our tenure we planned and built numerous capital projects including a new City Hall, cultural and park projects and many street and utility improvements.
John assembled a strong management team. We were highly motivated and going to work was fun!
He was instrumental in my becoming a City Manager. He gave me roles and assignments to build my resume. He coached me on what I should be looking for in selecting a city to consider and the interviewing process. When I did get my first City Manager position he could not have been more supportive in helping me be successful.
John was both a visionary and basic services guy. He could think outside the box with the best of them (hydrogen powered buses) and get into the weeds when necessary (good sidewalks). His contribution to the city management profession is noteworthy and should be applauded. He was a pro!
Our thoughts go out to Jay and L.T. Your dad was proud of you and your accomplishments. I know you were of his!
Paul & Karen Lanspery
Coworker
October 22, 2019
He is going to be missed by a number of folks.
Elaine Needham
Friend
October 16, 2019
John was a good and caring man. Although we didn't keep close contact, I connected with him on LinkedIn and would periodically get emails from him: sharing his book, family ties, and especially when he wanted lyrics to songs that my father would sing--specifically "the Frog" song. He seemed to enjoy my Dad --must have been the music connection!
My deepest sympathy in the loss of your father and wishing you comfort in your memories.
Suzanne Monteiro
Family
October 14, 2019
Sitting at breakfast and opening my iPad to Johns obit was a real shock! He has always been a good friend and mentor to all of my family from high school on. I will miss being able to call or email when the mood struck...and there were many. I could always call on him when I was in college and needed a friend to lean on. Even recently we spoke often, comparing notes on life generally and specifically. He encouraged me to go into the Peace Corps when I was foundering about what my next step in life should be. That was the biggest and best step ever in my life, and I will always be grateful to him. I always appreciated how he shared information about his family. He was so proud of all of you. We will all miss him and keep so many unsaid memories that cannot be put into words.
Lou Brown
Family Friend
October 14, 2019
We were not close friends; however, I always very much liked and admired John, who was a year ahead of me in high school. Outstanding musician and always good company. As we, approaching 80 are no longer bulletproof, losing yet another friend/colleague is becoming more and more difficult to learn. Strength and courage to all who loved him. Forest "Frosty" Irons
Forest Irons
Friend
October 13, 2019
I first met John while he was city manager in Fort Collins. As a new city manager he was always a mentor to me and other new managers. We remained in touch while he served Topeka and was always a leader wherever he landed. I'll always treasure our friendship.
Rich Caplan
Rich Caplan
Friend
October 13, 2019
I am shocked at John's passing as we'd just emailed and he said he was doing fine. John and Kaye were friends in Eureka when he was City Manager and we remained friends all these years. We had lots of fun while they lived on Humboldt Hill, all centered around some great food and fine wine. Kaye fried up a mess of catfish one night that melted in your mouth but took a week to clean up the grease she said! Great memories and lots of laughs! I'll miss his emails and fun sense of humor. Rest In Peace dear friend. My sincere and heartfelt sympathy to his family.
Sharon Yost
October 13, 2019
John and I have stayed in touch all this time since he left Ft. Collins. I worked for him and we established a loyal trust and friendship. John was an innovator which I believe, at least in part, allowed Ft. Collins to become the quality city that it is today. We miss Kaye and now we will miss John also.
Chuck Mabry
Coworker
October 13, 2019
I only knew John thru the city of Topeka. He was a good kind man. One afternoon I was working for a vendor at one of the city's Friday street dances. John walked up and said is there anything you don't do? He had seen me with many different hats on. RIP sir.l
Sarah Guffy
October 13, 2019
Thank you, John, for your service to so many for so long. Blessings.
Ruth Maus
October 12, 2019
I feel so sad about this news. John was my rock through 4 tumultuous years as Mayor of Topeka, and he remained my good friend. I still have a blooming orchid as a reminder of the last time he had dinner at my home. And a memory of his helping me at the Rotary Freedom Festival last year in the loudest pair of red-white-blue shorts with stars that I have ever seen! I know our entire community will remember him with fondness, and especially me. Sometimes my husband and I would have dinner with him and Kaye. She would always chide him to have half a hamburger. Such restraint. Now they are together again. Our visits grew further apart in recent months, but judging from the comments and emails I have received from mutual friends, he is well remembered. Having John Arnold as my CAO made running Topeka's city government a whole lot easier because of his deep experience and his willingness to be candid with me. We also had a lot of geography in common. I grew up in Texarkana, lived in Little Rock and he worked professionally in both places. His sense of humor, love of music and commitment to getting the job done made him so easy to work with. I raise my glass of Jameson's in tribute to my good friend John Arnold. Joan Wagnon, Topeka Mayor 1997-2001
Joan Wagnon
Coworker
October 11, 2019
My time at the City of Topeka overlapped John's by about a year. It was a difficult time and John handled it with grace and humor and was the consummate professional. Clearly he did a lot of good in his long career, the most any of us can ask. Godspeed.
Neil Dobler
Coworker
October 11, 2019
John and I with the family of a Filipino friend, Gaang beach, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, 1963 (we joined in 1962, not 1992 as my tribute says).
John and I with the family of a Filipino friend, Gaang beach, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, 1963 (we joined in 1962, not 1992 as my tribute says).
Jack Sears
Family Friend
October 11, 2019
I will miss John's camaraderie and friendship greatly; I already do. I know he will always be in your family's hearts and memories.

As you know, John and I joined the Peace Corps in 1992, when it was still learning to fly; every new group sent out was to some extent an experiment.

We were sent to a small village in Luzon, in the northern Philippines, and ended up sharing a house together. We faced the challenge of suddenly adapting to an entirely different culture. Language, values, food, nearly everything was new to us. We learned very early that we'd need to rely on each other to adjust to this different world.

Fortunately, John and I shared a sense of humor that formed the basis of our friendship, and smoothed out the bumps in the road ahead. We also shared a love of music.

John had brought his guitar with him, and we played the beat-up old piano placed on the second floor of the house for protection from the flooding of annual typhoons.

One day we noticed that a couple of keys at the treble end of the keyboard were jammed. The next day, two more keys became immobile, and soon a whole octave had stopped working. At that rate, we soon wouldn't have a piano to play at all.

Plus, of course, we were curious about what in the world was happening.

After figuring out how to remove the front of the piano, the answer became clear: a nest of pink baby mice were wiggling on the strings.

That was nice to know, but how would we get them out? Pick them up with our bare hands and put them where? Let them grow up and run away? Were there more to come?

We looked at each other, and at the unglassed windows on the second story; and we came to a decision.

We rolled the piano over to the nearest window, hoisted up the bass end, and tilted it until the little buggers fell out the other side into the darkness below.

A story we would often recall in later years, another laugh to share.

Another memory.

Jack and Kyung Ja Sears
Jack and Kyung Ja Sears
Family Friend
October 10, 2019
First & foremost Elena & I send our heartfelt thoughts, prayers & condolences to John's family & friends. We also send our thanks to them for sharing John with our community!!! As my time on the Topeka City Council I was fortunate to learn so much from John!!!!
John now joins his beloved Kaye & for that I am happy for him, although he will be missed.
Thanks again for everything, Sir & may you Rest In Peace.
Pete Jr & Elena Tavares
Friend
October 10, 2019
I loved working for John. He hired me as deputy city manager of Fort Collins, CO in 1984. All city managers have their individual set of strengths. John's clearly included being an innovator and futurist. I had only been with the city for a few weeks when he invited me to join him at one of his speaking engagements in town. I forget the group or the exact topic. But somewhere in his comments he wondered out loud, "Why can't we invent asphalt that patches itself when there is a pot hole....just like our skin does when we get a cut?" John was never short of creative ideas. He would sometimes drive the staff crazy because he would send so many ideas to department heads to consider. One department head told me, "We always wait for the second email to know if he is serious about a request." I asked him about the fact that he is sometimes overloading the staff with ideas. He said he knew that was true but went on the theory that if you put ten ideas on the table, one or two of them may find a champion on the team who picks it up and runs with it. Working for John was never boring and always fun being encouraged to be an innovator in providing city services.
Rich Shannon
Coworker
October 10, 2019
Things all started with John and I when we were in the same Cub Scout group in Atchison and attended Washington Grade School in Atchison. We were friends throughout high school and then "renewed" our friendship several years later as we both went to different occupations in different parts of the country. We became very close again (10 years ago) when we would regularly have lunch in Lawrence at Johnny's with John, Judy, Lee Flachsbarth and his wife Sandy. My wife Connie and I always looked forward to those regular monthly get-togethers! John and Lee were KU...Connie and I were KSU and that always made for fun conversations about sports and each university! We were all aware of his many successes as a city manager around the country, but he always played it down when we questioned him! I was impressed with his wide-range of knowledge in so many areas from music to theater, to sports to trivia! He was a very popular member of our "Class of 1958" when we had reunions and my thoughts of him will always bring a smile to my face! Rest in Peace my good friend and OK, just for you: ROCK CHALK!
john laurie
Friend
October 10, 2019
I am so sorry for your loss. John was in love with life and will be greatly missed. May God hold you through this most difficult time.
Nancy Johnson
Friend
October 9, 2019
I was saddened to learn of John's passing. He was a good friend, an astute mentor and an indelible part of my life. I was so blessed to be a part of his remarkable E-470 tollway team. After he left E-470 we stayed in touch sporadically. I received many of his well-crafted, email missives covering a wide variety of subjects and wry opinions. He also liked to keep his finger on the pulse of E-470 and so I received from him emails, and some phone calls, that led off with "So what's this hear about E-470?" Two years ago, I was asked to interview John for a book that a Colorado historian was writing about E-470. We had some great fun doing that, wracking our brains to recall names and events from the past.

There was much more to John than toll roads. He had an ecletic array of talents and and interests. And he was a great father to Jay and LT and a lucky guy to have had a wife like Kaye.

He will be missed.
Dan Christopherson
Friend
October 9, 2019
Very sad news to hear. I considered John an astute professional and enjoyed our contacts through
the Kansas City area retirees luncheons. He will be missed.
Mike Wildgen, friend, Lawrence, October 9, 2019
Mike Wildgen
Friend
October 9, 2019
Sorry to learn of John's passing. I was one year behind John at KU (MPA 1966) but as the classes overlapped a two-year period, we were together on campus frequently. We crossed paths many times over the years, mostly at ICMA meetings and it was always our pleasure to have the opportunity to catch up on what he and Kaye were doing. I also retired in 2002 and kept up with John mostly through his frequent emails, some personal to me, but most were his studied opinions on various topics which sometimes were serious and sometimes made me laugh, but usually needed no reply. John will be missed by the city management profession and by his many friends. Condolences to his family.
Kent & Anne Leichliter
October 9, 2019
I'm so sorry to hear about John. I knew John as a fellow KUCIMAT and city management professional. He was filled with energy and light and will be missed. Sending condolences to his family.
Jan Perkins
Acquaintance
October 9, 2019
Sorry to hear about John's passing. He was a great supporter of other local government professionals in Kansas and I always enjoyed our visits. He will be missed. Condolences to his family.
Diane Stoddard
Acquaintance
October 9, 2019
John stood by me in my time of need, a good friend, I shall miss him
John Mason
Friend
October 9, 2019
John was one of my favorites! He was genuine and caring; he always made us feel as if our interests were important to him. I am sad that he is gone, but so very proud that he was ours, and that I was fortunate enough to know him. Rest In Peace.
Mary Potter
October 9, 2019
Sorry for the loss of John. Condolences.
Wayne Stull
Friend
October 8, 2019
John was always so thoughtful, and he added significantly to my knowledge of city management. To this day I incorporate into my teaching and consulting the seminal concept that John shared with me. There is a "gap" between what is politically acceptable and administratively sustainable, and most importantly, he turned me on to the observation that the gap is growing. "Bridging the gap" has been my calling card, thanks to friend and alum, John.
John Nalbandian, KU faculty
john Nalbandian
Friend
October 8, 2019
John's wisdom, insight and passion enriched everyone in our family. John and Kaye were among the most beloved people in our Arnold line.
John J. Fitzgerald
Family
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