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Vickers known for his humor, dealmaking

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 6, 2010, at 12:05 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, March 6, 2010, at 5:31 p.m.

Thomas "Tommy" M. Vickers was the youngest of five brothers in the Wichita family that founded Vickers Petroleum.

But more than that, he was somebody who made fast friends and thrived on business deals.

Mr. Vickers, formerly of Wichita, died Wednesday in a Denver hospital. He was 72.

Friends and business partners from Wichita said Mr. Vickers was involved in a variety of business deals throughout his life.

"He was a deal-a-day guy, and I can't tell you how much fun he was," said Max Cole, a longtime commercial developer who was partners with Mr. Vickers on a land deal at the southwest corner of 21st and Rock Road that is now Tallgrass Centre.

"About 15 deals a year might have been a minimum (for Mr. Vickers)," Cole said. "He was in land; he was in pizza; he was in everything."

Cole said Mr. Vickers also worked on real estate developments in Arizona and Colorado.

"Restaurants, real estate, oil, it didn't matter what it was," said Wichita car dealer Steve Hatchett, who had been friends with Mr. Vickers for several decades. "He always had something he was working on."

One of Mr. Vickers' early accomplishments in Wichita was Tommy Vickers Productions, which put together the first Missouri Valley Conference basketball TV package, around 1962. The games aired in large markets such as Chicago, Cincinnati and Dallas-Fort Worth as well as Wichita, Des Moines and Louisville.

Mr. Vickers left Wichita in the mid-1980s for Colorado. He was living in Castle Rock at the time of his death.

Besides his work as a developer, Mr. Vickers also was an accomplished golfer, having played in two U.S. Amateur Championships.

Nestor Weigand Jr., chairman and chief executive of J.P. Weigand & Sons, said he and Mr. Vickers met each other in grade school in Wichita and had been friends since.

Weigand said they recently were planning to have lunch together in California while Weigand was there on a business trip.

But he said Mr. Vickers had called him to cancel, saying he wasn't feeling well.

"He was bigger than life," Weigand said. "He was just one of those infectious people. He was funny. He could have been a standup comic. He had multiple talents and gifts.

"He just lived life with both hands."

Hatchett agreed.

"He probably enjoyed people more than anybody I know," Hatchett said. "He seemed to enjoy everything about life."

Mr. Vickers' funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Centennial, Colo.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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