Robert Tomasek

Robert D. Tomasek, 91, died April 7, 2019, at Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence, Kansas. He was born in Chicago on January 16, 1928, to Joseph and Louise (Pojman) Tomasek. Bob attended schools in Riverside, Illinois. He graduated from Grinnell College in 1950, majoring in history. He then went to the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, concentrating on Latin American Studies. Before finishing there, he was drafted and served 11 months in the Korean War in an artillery outfit. On returning home, he married Ruth Waltershausen, on November 28, 1953. He then used the GI bill for four years of graduate work at the University of Michigan, where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. Midway through the four years, Bob and Ruth took a six-month trip to Europe and Morocco.

In 1957, Bob was offered a job in the political science department at the University of Kansas teaching Latin American affairs and international law. He was a professor at KU for 35 years and also spent one year as a visiting professor at Indiana University. While at KU, Bob worked up new seminars on theories of international relations and conflict resolution. The seminars on international relations became his favorite topic. Bob’s research covered a number of controversies in Latin America, such as exile disputes, the Bolivian land-locked issue, arms races, the strategy of the OAS in dispute settlements, and peace plans for Central America. He received a Dougherty grant to study the Christian Democratic Party of Chile and grants to study specific aspects of U.S.-Mexican relations. He came out with one of the first books of readings on Latin American politics. He was proud that his research could cover areas outside of Latin America, resulting in a published article on the 1975 mediation between Iraq and Iran.

Bob was an avid outdoor enthusiast. Canoeing was his favorite pastime, resulting in eight 10-day canoe trips in the Boundary Waters and the Quetico. After feeling he had seen the best of those two wilderness areas, he used Canadian logging roads and railroads to find lakes north of the Quetico that were less crowded. He did a number of backpacking trips in the Wind River and Beartooth ranges in Wyoming and Montana. In his later years he camped and fished for trout in Colorado on two- to three-week exploratory trips.

Bob volunteered at LINK and helped Ruth deliver Meals on Wheels. He was a longtime member of Trinity Episcopal Church, ushering for many years.

He is survived by three daughters, Mary Carey (John), Freehold, N.J., Katherine Tomasek, Lawrence, and Sarah Tomasek (Alan Yost), North Andover, Mass., and by three grandchildren, Helen Carey, Rachel Yost, and Christopher Yost. Also surviving is his brother, Donald.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, on May 6, 2016.

A private graveside service will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery. Contributions in memory of Bob may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary. Online condolences may be sent to