Thursday, October 08, 2015

Former BJ editor Tom Suchan, who took a lot of ribbing, as I did, because he was Polish but was one superb newsman, passed away Oct. 2 in Wichita.

Tom’s wife, Kay, broke the news to me. She wrote:


“I know Tom enjoyed reading the BJ blog for many years. He'd often mention an item that you'd posted.  I'm sorry to say he won't be doing that any more.

“He suffered a brain aneurysm on Sept. 1 and another brain stroke about the 20th. He passed away on Oct. 2. Services aren't until the 17th to allow time for his brothers and other relatives to travel Wichita.

“Thank you for the work you do in keeping the blog going.


Zapraszamy do Nieba, Tom.

Tom once showed up for work at the BJ with one brown and one black shoe. That became part of Beacon lore, like Pat Englehart’s DeNobil cigars or Fran Murphey’s loving ”Go to Hell!”

When I had a "Polish party" in the garage of my Cuyahoga Falls house, Suchan was most appropriately dressed in "Polish," and carried a Polsky shopping bag. And he wasn't in costume!

He wore tennis shoes instead of one brown and one black shoe. I loved it! Tom, with Kay his willing accomplice, captured the spirit of my “Polish” party better than anyone else who showed up.

After 13 years at Ol’ Blue Walls, Tom left the Beacon Journal to go to work for Hustler magazine owner Larry Flynt in September 1977. Flint was starting a mainstream publication, Ohio Magazine, and named Tom the executive editor. But that didn’t go well. Tom started his new job on Labor Day and left the following Valentine’s Day.

Former BJ managing editor Scott Bosley, retired in Kalamazoo, Michigan these days, got Tom a job with the Wichita Eagle in 1978.

At the age of 48 in 1991. Tom retired from newspapers and switched to writing the Great American Novel, growing tomatoes and volunteering.
Tom got nothing but rejection slips for his manuscripts, the tomatoes died horrible deaths in the 100-degree Wichita sun but the volunteering took off. As Tom explained it 30 years ago:

“We work at a camp for the handicapped … in the kitchen whipping up wonderful goodies. We work at a soup kitchen in downtown Wichita. And we work at a homeless shelter preparing meals.”

The Kielbasa Kid found his niche in the world in Wichita, and it wasn’t by getting ink on his hands.

Oh, Tom still wrote – a column for the parish monthly newspaper.

Tom and Kay have four children and 11 grandchildren.

When the Super Desk was created, wiping out the State Desk, City Editor Scott Bosley became Metro Editor and Tom was switched from the Sunday Department to become asssociate Metro Editor. State Editor Editor Pat Englehart got the Special Projects title and was hidden in an office near the parking deck entrance as punishment for building such a loyal empire of editors and reporters in his former domain.

As a special tribute to Tom, I offer some famous Polish proverbs and their translations:

Jak sobie poscielesz, tak sie wyspisz
How you make your bed, thus will you rest.

Bez pracy nie ma kolaczy
Without work there won't be supper.

(I think my Polish grandmother wrote that one; at least, she lived it and preached it to me throughout my childhood.)

Moja dupa i twoja twarz to blizniacy
My arse and your face are twins.

Wszystkie czasy są dobre, gdy stary.

All times are good when old.

Komu pora, temu czas
When it's your time, you have to go.

W dzisiejszych czasach trzeba iść do nieba, aby spotkać anioła.

Nowadays you must go to heaven to meet an angel.

And Tom did.

If you want to offer condolences to Kay and the Suchan family, the address is:

310 S. Nineiron Court
Wichita, KS 67235

The phone number is:

(316) 722-7809

And the email is

After reading this blog article, Kay wrote:


"I loved the Polish Proverbs. Being the good German that I am, Tom always reminded me about who won the war.”

That’s the Tom Suchan humor that we all loved.
RIP, Tom.
Tom Suchan’s obituary in the Wichita, Kansas Eagle:

Suchan, Thomas 73, retired Wichita Eagle journalist, passed away October 2, 2015. Tom was a longtime member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. He is survived by his wife, Kay; children, Matt, Jeffrey (Diahann), Amy (Steve) and William; brothers, Ken (Pat), Bob (Jean); and 12 grandchildren. Rosary is 7:30 p.m. Friday; Mass of Christian Burial is 10 a.m. Saturday, October 17, both at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Memorials may be sent to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church or Anthony Shelter.

Published in The Wichita Eagle on Oct. 11, 2015

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