In recognition of their contributions to the community and Colby Community College, Dr. Tom and Nancy Barlow have been selected to receive the 2018 Honorary Associate Degree.

A committee of college and community members choose recipients of the honorary degree, which will be conferred during commencement at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 11, in the Colby Community Building.

Born in Marysville, Tom attended Creighton University and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology before being admitted to the Creighton Boyne School of Dental Science.

“I met my wife Nancy (Dirks) Barlow in Omaha,” he said. “She was completing her BS in nursing at the University of Nebraska. We married and were blessed with our daughter Meghan. Six weeks after Meghan’s birth we departed to Okinawa, Japan.”

Dr. Barlow served four years as a captain in the United States Air Force as a dental officer, splitting time between Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa and Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha.

He left the military in 1980 and searched for a rural town where his family could settle.

“We looked all over Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas and were attracted to Colby. Dr. Fleckenstein said we needed another dentist here and Colby had curb-and-gutter streets, a community college, and had maintained Sacred Heart parochial school. Decision made.”

For the first three months, Nancy stayed working at Creighton Hospital in intensive coronary care while Tom moved to Colby and lived in Hildyard Apartments for $100 a month.

“I purchased my office space at 505H North Franklin with the trusting loan of F & M Bank,” Tom said. “I practiced dentistry for 37 years in Colby.”

During that 37 years, Dr. Barlow was an active member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and was on parish council several times. He was also a past president and member of Colby Rotary.

He served in regional and national organizations. As a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, he achieved Fellowship in 1988. In 1994 he reached the Mastership level and was one of just eight at that time among Kansas’ 1,500 dentists. He was president of the Kansas Academy of General Dentistry and a delegate to the Region XII states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In addition, he is a past president and has been a member for 35 years of the Kansas Society of Orthodontics for the General Practitioner.

Dr. Barlow has a long history with CCC. He was instrumental in helping launch the dental hygiene program in 1998 and stepped in when the college did not have a supervising dentist.

Nancy began working at the old Thomas County Hospital and continued at Citizen’s Medical Center for many years. She often sought educational opportunities and took several classes in business and accounting at CCC. When hygienists were in short supply in the area, she went back to college. She attended a year at the University of South Dakota, and with the opening of the CCC dental hygiene program, transferred and graduated with the inaugural class in 2000.

Meghan is also a graduate of CCC and participated in track and cross-country.

Dr. Barlow retired from his practice in 2017.

“We will always love Colby,” he said. “But now family attracts us elsewhere.”