Mountain Custom 1

Tom vanArkel

June 1, 1936 ~ May 26, 2021 (age 84)


Arthur Thomas vanArkel was known as Tom to all who knew him.  He passed away at the age of 84 in his home under the care of Hospice.  His and his spouse’s home is on the outskirts of Woodland Park between Woodland Park and Divide in Teller County.  He died on May 26, 2021 of lung cancer, although he never smoked a day in his life.  He was born on June 1, 1936 in Haddonfield, New Jersey to Sidney Peirce Thomas (who later became Sidney Forstall) and John vanArkel.  He had a sister, Gayle.  Tom primarily grew up in Haddonfield NJ and later on for most of his young adulthood in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He attended Westtown school from third grade to 12th grade.  Tom was a consummate athlete. He excelled at high jumping, running and track, basketball, baseball, and soccer.  He was scouted for pro baseball as a pitcher until he developed a bone spur, which could not be fixed at that time. More recently when Tom was in his late 40s early 50s, he ran the incline for the Pikes Peak marathon twice, and then did the round trip.  He attended Haverford college for his undergrad degree.  He also was the captain of the soccer team at Haverford college where two of his teammates were picked for the first Olympic soccer team. He then studied his master’s degree in Fine Arts and architecture at University of Pennsylvania “Penn”. He also had two years of law school at the University of Pennsylvania.  One of the great stories about Tom is, that the head of the architectural college at Penn was Louie Kahn, a very famous American architect. Mr. Khan came upon Tom when he was laying bricks on a house that he was restoring that was on the college campus. Mr. Kahn admired the way he was restoring the house. He asked Tom if he was in school at Penn, Tom said yes, and Mr. Khan asked what was he studying, and Tom said law.  Mr. Kahn complemented Tom on the way he was restoring the house he was working on, and asked him if he liked what he was doing in law school.  Tom said not particularly. Then Mr. Khan asked Tom if he'd like to come to the architectural school?   That was the beginning of Tom's architectural career.                                                                                                                        

Tom then formed an architectural firm with a partner and became quite successful in Philadelphia and New York. He designed the first model for the South Street Seaport in New York, and was on the board and was influential in the development of the seaport. He also designed Newmarket Square in Boston.  He created a business called Dita Supply that designed and made Dita field hockey sticks and balls. Tom received Design awards for some of his contributions in Philadelphia and New York.  Tom moved to Colorado in 1978-9.  He moved to Manitou Springs and did some historic renovations and new historically designed homes.  He also served on the Manitou Springs City Council.  He was responsible for helping create historic preservation laws there.  He also helped design the first new internal design for the Business of Art Center.  Tom also spent quite a bit of time in New Mexico and Colorado building and designing Earthships.   He worked with New Mexico architect, Michael Reynolds for quite some time.                  

Tom grew up Quaker and was what is called a birthright Quaker because his family had been Quakers for centuries.  Quakers are well known for their educational institutions and have created some of the best schools in the country. He was lucky to enough attend many of them. He and his wife were responsible for adopting some students from Africa, mainly by sending money so that they could fund their attendance at Westtown School.  Tom was involved in the community and helping people and had a quiet meditative side that is also attributed to Quakers.                                                                     

 He also had a wry sense of humor.  He was known for involving his friends in his creative endeavors, such as making something that could be considered moonshine.                                  

Tom was involved in many athletics and excelled at many of them. He was awarded Most Valuable Athlete of his class in H.S.  He excelled in high jumping, basketball, baseball, track and soccer.  He also was an expert skier and later in life got ski instructor training at the Austrian Ski School and became a ski instructor in Aspen.


Tom is survived by his wife Barbara Batchelor, and their three dogs Moonshadow, Bilbo, and Frodo, who live in their home between Woodland Park and Divide, Colorado.   His previous wife Anne and their 2 adult children Gerhard vanArkel and Marion Dear.  He also has 5 grandchildren.  Gerry’s children are Alexandria, Grace, and Jake, and Marion's children are Rosie and Carter.                                                                        

The Service will be on Saturday, August 14th, 2021.   The time will be between 11:00a.m. and 12:30p.m. and the place will be at the Mountain Wilderness Memorial Park, 118 Arapahoe St.., Woodland Park, CO, 80863. 

A reception will be held at Barbara and Tom's home - right around the corner from the memorial. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Tom vanArkel, please visit our floral store.


Memorial Service
August 14, 2021

11:00 AM
Mountain Wilderness Memorial Park
118 Arapaho Rd.
Woodland Park, CO 80863