August 30, 1935 ~ January 13, 2023
On Friday, January 13th, 2023, Thomas Victor Prudden passed away at the age of 87.
Tom was born August 30th, 1935 in Kansas City, MO to the late Victor and Hilda Prudden. He was preceded in death by a brother, Fred Prudden, and leaves behind a sister, Betty Johnson, of Overland Park, KS.
At 23, Tom met the love of his life, Roberta Rainey, and after a long courtship of 3 weeks, they were engaged. Six months later they married and 10 months following the wedding they welcomed their first child. He loved his three children, Pam (Michael) Rodriguez, Tim (Cyndi) Prudden, and Tom (Julie) Prudden. He was Papa to eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, whom he also loved dearly.
Tom enlisted in the Air Force in 1954 when he was 19 years old and served for 4 years as an air traffic controller and was promoted to the head of the department.
In 1959, he joined the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department where he worked for the next six years. With his robust voice, he was selected and assigned to be KMBZ’s “sky spy” – riding along in the helicopter and reporting the traffic. Because of his tremendous mechanical aptitude, he started learning to fly from the pilot while doing his sky spy duties.
After leaving the police department, Tom went to work flying helicopters for Comet Aviation. His children remember him frequently flying over their house and they would run outside to wave at him! The aviation company was often hired to do promotions and grand openings for businesses. Sometimes this involved “ping pong ball drops” over shopping center parking lots. A couple of times he reserved some ping pong balls to drop over his own house for all of the neighborhood kids. He was always up to shenanigans, including flying his helicopter under downtown bridges that were over the Missouri River. With Comet Aviation, he taught the very first group of KCPD helicopter pilots to fly. He also earned his own fixed wing pilot’s license which he kept up for the next couple of decades. He began working at Universal Underwriters as an insurance adjuster and was promoted to claims manager where he stayed until his retirement. He was a Mason and a member of the local Ararat Shrine Temple.
Tom was quick witted with a dry sense of humor. He could throw out a perfectly timed zinger and make everyone laugh. Sometimes crusty on the outside, he was hugely tender hearted on the inside – especially when it came to his family. He was an honest man with very high integrity which never wavered.
Tom was a true jack of all trades and he taught his sons how to fix nearly everything when they were growing up. He loved woodworking and had the scars on his fingers to prove it! He was a history buff and because his mind was always so sharp he could remember in detail interesting facts of just about anything. He enjoyed flying remote control airplanes, he loved to take drives through the country side with Roberta and he was an excellent driver up to the very last day. New tires on his car was a passion and also became a family joke! He was a life long learner and his inquisitive nature led him to be interested in so many things. Finding the Youtube channel a few years ago was a great source of conversation every time he dived into a new topic. Tom will forever be remembered by his family and friends as “The King of Questions”.
There will always be a void without him and his memory will remain with us forever.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Wounded Warrier Project.