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Boone remembered as history buff, passionate attorney

8/27/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Tom Boone loved horses, history and the law. And his family.

A lawyer for nearly 60 years, Boone died at 11:25 p.m. Monday in the intensive care unit at Hays Medical Center at the age of 87, according to his son, Caleb.

"He loved history," he said of his father. "Not just Kansas history, but governmental history."

Daughter Rachel Sennett was with him in his final hours.

"It's just hard because I lost my best friend," she said.

Boone often put his knowledge of history on paper, frequently sending missives in the form of letters to the editor to The Hays Daily News. He even penned his own obituary.

Fellow Hays attorney Don Staab had only praise for his friend.

"He and I have been friends since 1956," said Staab, who mentioned he first met Boone during Boone's bid to serve as attorney general of Kansas. "We've been good friends even though we went toe-to-toe with each other in court."

Depending on the case, they also worked together in court.

"He was a very good trial attorney," Staab said.

There was a strong bond between Staab and Boone, dating back nearly 50 years and a friendship that has been unequaled since.

"We really had a close relationship from that point on," Staab said, adding he would do anything to help Boone.

He had planned to visit Boone in the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

Even though he's spent nearly the last 30 years in Topeka, former Hays attorney Ed Larson -- who left the Jeter Law Firm to sit on the Kansas Court of Appeals and then the Kansas Supreme Court -- remembers working with Boone.

"He was passionate about his practice, and he was not afraid to take on difficult cases," he said.

Some of the cases Boone took on and was successful at, Larson said, were cases other attorneys wouldn't touch.

"He enjoyed being a western Kansas attorney," Larson said.

He did enjoy it, living and working in a region where he could see history. He long had horses, even owning quarter horses that raced in Kansas and at Ruidoso Downs, Ruidoso, N.M.

Constantly wearing a cowboy hat, his Main Street office was decorated with a saddle and other Western art.

Boone was born in Wallace County and served in the Navy during World War II. He received his undergraduate degree from Fort Hays State University in 1953 and his law degree from Washburn University in 1956.

He could be an imposing figure, in court and in person.

Staab said Boone's presence couldn't be ignored, and lawyers and court personnel long said even on the third floor of the Ellis County Courthouse, "you knew when he walked in the door on the first floor.

"Tom was very boisterous," he said.

While Boone often could be abrupt in his dealings with people, he also had a soft side, according to Jill Jones, Staab's legal secretary who previously had worked for Boone.

Jones said Boone doted on his granddaughter, attending all of her athletic events regardless of the weather.

The same was true for his grandson, Sennett said.

"He never missed a game for either one," she said of grandson William, 13, and granddaughter Madyson, 10.

"He had his good side too," Jones said. "He will be missed."