Cover photo for Thomas Paul Mikulka's Obituary
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1954 Thomas 2024

Thomas Paul Mikulka

November 5, 1954 — January 8, 2024

The Hon. Thomas Paul Mikulka, 69, passed away Monday January 8th, 2024, in Chanute, Kansas. Thomas was born in Topeka, Kansas, on November 11, 1954, the son of Thomas John and Esther Louise (Zimmerman) Mikulka.

Tom graduated from Hayden High School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1972. After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1976, Tom backpacked Europe for seven months. In 1981, Tom earned his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Tom met the love of his life, Debra E. Swender, and two years later were married on December 15th, 1984, in Chanute, Kansas. They enjoyed a spirited life together and valued time with family, friends, and each other.

Tom enjoyed a broad and varied general law practice in Chanute with his law partner, John Rubow, for 38 years. In addition to his law practice, Tom spent 35 years serving various area municipalities as a municipal court judge and was a strong advocate for children in need of court services.

As a career capstone, Tom was selected as District Magistrate Judge to Woodson, Wilson, and Neosho Counties, 31st Judicial District. Tom loved serving as a judge. In the words of peers and friends, Tom "was an exemplary lawyer with impeccable integrity and a serious dedication to the practice of law." He was described as a man of "strong moral and ethical principles" and having "tremendous knowledge as a legal scholar" with "unquestionable integrity and extraordinary legal expertise."

A loving husband, father, brother, son, uncle, and devoted family man, Tom loved having thoughtful conversations and spending time with family. Ever a gentleman, Tom was an avid reader, a great listener, and a mentor and example for many. He also loved golf, travel, reading, running, chocolate, coffee, Indian food, meditation, and his home. Tom touched many lives, was loved and respected by many, and will be greatly missed.

Thomas was a past Master of Cedar Lodge 103 A.F. & A.M, Chanute Kansas.

Along with his wife Debra, Tom is survived by a daughter Alexandra Mikulka (Jim Joice); sister, Phyllis Nickelson, Tulsa, Oklahoma; brother, Dan Housholder, Vashon, Washington; mother-in-law, Lesta Swender, Chanute; sister-in-law Diane Watkins (Mark), Parsons; brothers-in-law Herbert J Swender Sr. (Diana),Grove, Oklahoma and Patrick Swender, Chanute; Nieces and nephews: Christian Watkins; Blair Watkins-Lowry (Ryan); H.J. Swender Jr. (Rebecca); Whitney Tempel (Tanner); Austin Swender (Aubrie); Becky McKinney; Pam Havel (Monte);Kimberly Patty ( Bill); Rob Nickelson; Great Nieces and nephews: Kaitlyn, Caroline, and Nolan Swender; Bobby Fletcher; Sam and Lynsay Torrez; Janell (Will) Mills; Angie Tardiff (Kyle); Dustin McKinney.

Funeral service at 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 16th, 2024, at the First Baptist Church (118 N Forest Ave, Chanute, KS 66720). Memorials in his name may be made to Woodson County Revitalization/ RevitalizeYC or Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) 31st Judicial District, and may be left with Feuerborn Family Funeral Service, 1883 US Highway 54, Iola, Kansas, 66749.

Condolences for the family may be left at .
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

First Baptist Church - Chanute

118 North Forest Avenue, Chanute, KS 66720

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