Tom Bauman

College founder Tom Bauman praised at funeral


At the Aug. 18 funeral of Tom Bauman, one of the first members of the board of trustees at Laramie County Community College, the longtime Cheyenne radio broadcaster was praised as a “principled man,” who “was not afraid to say what needed to be said.”

His death Aug. 15 was announced at a general assembly of LCCC employees to kick off the new academic year.

The funeral at Our Savior Lutheran Church was punctuated with a solo of the song “On eagle’s wings” and ended outdoors under a cloudless blue sky with the playing of taps and a rifle volley by the American Legion. A private burial of the urn followed at Beth El Cemetery.

Bauman, 75, had been honored July 19 by LCCC for his 37 years on the board with the naming of the north loop road on campus as “Tom Bauman Loop.” He served on the LCCC board from 1968–1978 when he was appointed by Gov. Ed Herschler to the Wyoming Community College Commission. In 1983, he was re-elected to the board and served until 2010.

Recalling the grassroots campaign for the May 21, 1968, creation of the community college district in Laramie County, Bauman said: “We talked about academics, job training. I’d troll neighborhoods. I’d go to coffee klatches in people’s homes. We had to sell this program to the people.”

Bauman, who was 30 years old when he was first elected, had become well-known in Cheyenne as a broadcaster at KRAE radio. He served on the LCCC committee that selected the current site for the campus.

Rosalind Schliske, LCCC journalism instructor since 1976, who traced Bauman’s LCCC accomplishments at the road dedication in July, explained the site selection was fraught with controversy with various groups wanting the campus downtown or near the Veterans Administration or at the horticulture station west of town.

On June 12, 1969, the day LCCC broke ground on its current site in south Cheyenne, the college was sued for the eight-year lease-rental agreement it was using to finance the first three buildings.

Two weeks later on June 24, Bauman was re-elected to the board of trustees. When Judge Allen A. Pearson dismissed the suit July 7, 1969, he cited the re-election of Bauman and Martin Petersen, which showed voters approved of the construction.

“When we look back on the history of LCCC,” Schliske said, “I think we may point to that trustee election as being one of the most crucial.”

A native of Nebraska, Bauman moved to Cheyenne in 1961 and liked it so much that he stayed. Long active in the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club, a former president of the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce and the rodeo announcer for Cheyenne Frontier Days, Bauman worked tirelessly for those organizations and numerous other community groups. He used those venues as well as his radio station to praise LCCC.

Tom Bauman, and wife, Deanna, cutting the ribbon during the dedication ceremony of the Tom Bauman Loop on July 19.

Photo: LCCC PR

“Tom was the ultimate cheerleader for LCCC,” Schliske said.

One of the first steps LCCC officials took as they created the college was to bring in Dr. C.C. Colvert, founder of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas. “Dr. Colvert was responsible for giving us the business sense. He taught us to recognize the demand and start making opportunities for our students. Since then we’ve tried to run the campus like a business. We change to meet the needs of our students,” Bauman said in 2008.

Learning from the best, Bauman was fond of extolling in his deep radio-quality voice the virtues of the “comprehensive community college”—with emphasis on the word “comprehensive”—to anyone who would listen.

“Tom was so enthusiastic about new ideas. He never had his own agenda,” Schliske said. “Positive, progressive and at the same time steadfast are all words I would use to describe Tom’s tenure as a trustee.”

His influence on community colleges reached across the state, too. In 1977, he founded the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees.

Schliske said her research for the road dedication made her realize Bauman had devoted literally thousands of hours just coming to campus to attend meetings, watch athletics and music and theatre productions and participate in countless other events.

“And just think of all the graduation ceremonies he sat through,” she said, noting none of that would be possible without the support of his family, particularly his wife, Deanna, whom he married on Dec. 9, 1961, in Hot Springs, S.D.

He is also survived by two daughters, Brenda Foley (Joe) and Michelle Cooke (Terry), all of Cheyenne; a brother, Jerry Bauman, of Jenks, Okla.; a sister, Sally Ann Greenwalt, of Lincoln, Neb.; three grandchildren, Brianne Dunivent, Travis Dunivent and Thyme Cooke, all of Cheyenne; and a great-grandson, Ryker Dunivent, of Cheyenne.

“For every milestone in LCCC’s history whether it’s constructing a new building or hiring a new president, Tom Bauman has celebrated with us,” Schliske said. “For me, he will always be one of the great LCCC pioneers.”

Those who wish may contribute to the LCCC Foundation in honor of Tom Bauman to benefit the LCCC nursing program.