John E. Arnold, 79, Topeka, Kansas, passed away unexpectedly on October 4, 2019.
John was born on January 4, 1940, in Atchison, Kansas to George and Iva "Audrey" Bailey Arnold. A graduate of Atchison High School, he enjoyed performing in the band, playing basketball, and running track. High school classmates remain dear friends today.
John started a life of service by answering the call from JFK, joining the Peace Corps and serving in the Philippines from 1962-1964. That experience shaped his life, but most importantly, led to him meeting his wife Kaye. They were married in 1965. Kaye preceded him in death in 2007.
John was a passionate Jayhawk, graduating from KU with a bachelor's in liberal arts in 1962 and a master's degree in public administration in 1965.
During John's service in local government, he was recognized as a pioneer and innovator. His career took him around the country, from Atchison, to Texarkana, Texas, Titusville, Florida, and Little Rock, Arkansas. John served as City Manager in Minot, North Dakota from 1972-1977, Fort Collins, Colorado from 1977-1985, and Eureka, California from 1992-1996. He was the first Executive Director of the E-470 Authority that built the E-470 highway in Denver. John served as Chief Administrative Officer in Topeka from 1998 until retirement in 2002.
John was proud of his legacy in the places he lived, but also treasured the connections he made working together with Mayors and City Councilmembers, city staff, colleagues, and community members. He kept in touch with people regularly, sometimes with an emailed article, news clipping, or his own commentary.
During retirement, John focused on his passions: becoming a published author, playing golf, enjoying food and drink with friends, traveling often to visit family, and following Kansas basketball.
As a drummer, guitarist, and improvisational pianist, John instilled a love of music in his family. He also enjoyed sports whether shooting baskets or throwing a football with his sons, playing a game of golf whenever he could, watching the Sunday football game, or sailing on his boat, the Jayhawk. John and Kaye also loved to dance, a talent that unfortunately skipped a generation.
John is survived by his sons, Jay (Mary Beth) and L.T.; granddaughters, Audrey, Carmen, and Scarlett; dear friend and companion, Judy Morris. He will be dearly missed by cousins, nieces, in-laws, and friends here and around the country.
Memorial service will be 4 p.m. Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home, 2801 SW Urish Road, Topeka KS 66614, with visitation half an hour prior.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the KU School of Public Administration, or the Midwest Boxer Rescue, sent in care of the funeral home.
Condolences may be sent online to www.kevinbrennanfamily.com.