Kenneth Francis Thomas

When he was a young adult, Kenn Thomas, who died in his sleep on Friday, September 22 at
the age of 65, was infamous for answering the phone, any phone, with just his name:  “Kenn.”
No “Hello” or “Thomas Household” or any other kind of introductory phrase greeted callers,
whose time he said he didn’t want to waste. Of course, he also really liked to keep people on
their toes. That was Kenn – witty, mischievous, and almost always one step ahead.

Kenn was born in St. Louis and grew up in and around Hillsdale and Pine Lawn, where he
attended Catholic grade school. His parents moved around a bit during his youth. An important
constant during those early years and throughout his life were comic books. Over his lifetime,
he amassed a collection of comics that numbers in the thousands. He loved the artwork and the
storytelling and was regularly spotted around town at comic book meetings and conventions.
His favorite comic book artist was Jack Kirby.

As a teenager, Kenn put his substantial artistic skills to work writing and drawing his own comic
strip, “Norm and Andy” for Normandy High School, from which he graduated in 1976. He
earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Speech Communication (1980) and a Master of Arts in
English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he also spent the majority of his
professional career. He was employed by the University’s Western Historical Manuscripts
Collection and State Historical Society of Missouri as a Senior Manuscripts Specialist from 1986
until his retirement in 2019.

Kenn was a charming conversationalist who could talk about anything – music, politics, comic
books, and (his favorite) conspiracies. He was a polymath, talented in multiple areas, and could
pick up new skills seemingly effortlessly. He was a writer, an artist, a researcher. He could
understand and explain even the densest literary works (Pynchon was his favorite). He took an
acting class once and blew everyone away with his portrayal of Cardinal Wolsey. He was a
gifted speaker with a DJ’s voice and worked at KWMU on the weekends for a few years when
they still played music. He reviewed rock concerts in the 1980s for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and co-hosted a music and talk show on KDHX in its early on-
air days, where they primarily played and discussed the music of Bob Dylan.

He was part of a small but (obsessively) devoted local group of Dylan diehards who saw every
concert and got together to talk about and listen to Dylan recordings and bootlegs regularly. He
loved the Beat poets and Timothy Leary and could claim a friendly connection to William
Burroughs, for whom he accepted the honor of induction into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in
1990 when Burroughs was too frail to travel to his hometown. Kenn will be buried a stone’s
throw from Mr. Burroughs at the beautiful, historic Bellefontaine Cemetery in North St. Louis.

Kenn published a conspiracy magazine, Steamshovel Press, and wrote or co-wrote 10 books on conspiracy topics, including “The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro.” He regularly contributed to other periodicals, wrote introductions to other writers’ books, and spoke about his research internationally at conferences. A full list of his works can be found on his Wikipedia page. He donated his papers to the University of Missouri.

He loved his children (beyond measure), his historic old house, his dog Charlie, and old TV
shows (“The Prisoner” and “Hogan’s Heroes” were two favorites). He resisted going into a
nursing home, despite ongoing chronic health issues, because it would have meant living
without his dog, books, records, and comic books, which to him was not living at all.

He leaves behind his children, Sara Elizabeth Thomas (Chidozie Nwobilor) of Seattle and Simon
Russell Thomas (Ali Fehl) of St. Louis; his sisters, Mary Thomas Turner and Bridget Bueltemeyer
of St. Louis; three nieces, Michelle Turner of Houston, Texas, and Jackie Turner and Brandey
Pena of St. Louis; two nephews, Luke and Anthony Bueltemeyer of St. Louis; his former wife
Elizabeth von Behren; and a multitude of friends from across the globe.

The family wishes to express its deep gratitude to the team of friends and family members who
helped take care of Kenn over the past three years: Beth von Behren, Jeffrey and Nancy von
Behren, Jerry Durrwachter, Alan Lubin, Norm McGuire, Doug Jacobs, and all the friends who
routinely visited him when he was home-bound.

Kenneth Francis Thomas (June 12, 1958, to September 22, 2023) was preceded in death by his
parents Loretta Mary (Klock) Thomas and Russell Kenneth Thomas, his favorite uncle John
Klock, and his much-loved poochies Teddy and Abby.

Thank you to St. Louis Cremation for their compassionate care during this time. A Memorial and
Burial will be held at Bellefontaine Cemetery, 4947 West Florissant, St. Louis, MO 63115, on
Friday, October 20, at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the charity of
your choice in Kenn’s name.

Kenn Thomas – Wikipedia

 

3 Comments

  1. Davis Ripley Keller on October 13, 2023 at 1:13 am

    I’m thankful and honored to have met Kenn in ‘91 with his friend Jim Keith. We chatted several times over the last 15 years or so. Peace and Love to his family and friends☮️❤️



  2. Chris on October 13, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    Kenn was a good friend of my brothers for many years. Even with his own health issues he attended my brother’s funeral in July. I was si sad to see that he had passed only 2 months after my brother. Prayers to the family.



  3. George Ferguson on October 20, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    I have many fond memories of Kenn Thomas. We were very close friends in our young adulthood and had many adventures together. I’ll never forget the fun Kenn and I had driving with friends all the way to Stillwater, Oklahoma just to watch a Bob Dylan movie at a theater. We got there minutes before the movie and drove all the back to St. Louis immediately after the show ended. Kenn’s car died for good in the driveway as soon as we returned. We both thought it was worth the trip. Kenn and I shared a passion for music and listened to records together for hours at a time. We constantly borrowed and loaned records between us. I saw my first and only Mississippi River Festival with Kenn. We took a road trip with friends to Kansas City Arrowhead Stadium to attend Willie Nelson’ Picnic because the Greatful Dead were performing. When we left the event Kenn saw a dog that someone left locked in a car all day with the windows opened just a crack. Kenn was so concerned that he lead a mission to feed and water the dog through the openings in the windows. Then he left a critical note of concern to the dog’s owner and left it on the windshield. This is just one example of how empathetic and passionate Kenn could be. He was an intelligent and talented person who made a positive impression on me. He will be missed.



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