Dr. Thomas Magstadt

Dr. Thomas Magstadt, bestselling author, professor, and beloved member of the community, passed away at his home in Westwood Hills, Kansas on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. He was 76 years old.
Dr. Magstadt was born in Parkston, South Dakota on July 23, 1944, and grew up in the nearby town of Tripp. He earned his doctorate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and led a distinguished career that spanned half a century and multiple continents. It included chairing the political science departments at Augustana College and the University of Nebraska, teaching at the Air War College, the University of Missouri-Kansas, the University of Kansas and the University of Western Bohemia in the Czech Republic (where he was a Fulbright Scholar), and serving as a foreign intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.
A prolific writer, he published several textbooks, including Nations and Governments: Comparative Politics in Regional PerspectiveAn Empire If You Can Keep ItContemporary European Politics and his bestselling Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions and Issues, in addition to countless journal articles, policy papers and op-eds in both print and digital media.  He enjoyed art, music and travel. He looked forward to Tuesday morning rendezvous with his friends, the “Coffee Boys,” and could often be seen walking through Westwood Hills with the love of his life, Rebecca Mickelberg, and their dog, Rocky.
Dr. Magstadt is survived by Rebecca Mickelberg, his sister, Barbara, and his sons and their families, David, Amy and Alexa Magstadt and Michael and Erin Magstadt.


In accordance with his wishes, he will be laid to rest near his childhood home in Tripp, South Dakota, with a private celebration of life to follow at a later date.

Memorial Contributions

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Habitat for Humanity (https://www.habitat.org/donate/) and Harvesters (https://www.harvesters.org).


  1. Jay Watkins on July 14, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I was saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. I worked with him in Washington DC and remember him as full of life, generous in spirit, and married to a lovely wife. They made a great couple. I recall after he moved to Kearney, Nebraska he said I should come visit and see the Black Hills. Coincidentally, I am making a visit there in the fall. I will be thinking of him, his spirit, and intellectual curiosity. My sincere condolences to his family.

  2. Suzana Martin on June 21, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Such a wonderful man I had the privilege of knowing as a customer at my last job. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers Becky.
    Love Suzana (Hen House Market and Pharmacy)

  3. Don Fisher on June 21, 2021 at 9:02 am

    Tommy was quite simply the best. Ever.

  4. Grant W Mallett on June 17, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    Tom was a rare guy. Everything about him was unique – his background, his education, his professional career, his role as a father and a husband, his friendship, all of these and many more make him a very, very special type of guy. The nearly twenty years that I enjoyed his presence, first as a neighbor, then as a fellow coffee boy is certainly one of the best experiences of my life. He will be missed and remembered and I am so happy that our paths crossed.

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