Cover photo for Thomas Salb's Obituary
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1948 Thomas Salb 2024

Thomas Salb

July 12, 1948 — April 10, 2024


On April 10, 2024, Thomas Joseph Salb Jr., Ph. D., passed away in Lubbock, Texas, after a lengthy illness.  The youngest of three children, Tom was born to Elizabeth Anne (McGee) and Thomas Joseph Salb Sr. on July 12, 1948, in Washington, DC.  The Salb family moved from Washington, DC, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the following year.  Tom was raised in Albuquerque, and in his time he was a competitive swimmer and water polo player.  He became a field assistant to Dr. Tony Gennaro and, after he was graduated from Del Norte High School in 1966, he followed Dr. Gennaro to Eastern New Mexico University, where he became curator of the Eastern New Mexico Natural History Museum.  After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, he married Karen Jan Maciolek in 1970 and then went on to earn a master’s degree in biology in 1972.  While earning a master’s degree, Tom was research liaison between Eastern New Mexico University and Sandía Corporation.

In 1970, Tom and Karen opened the Maciolek School of Dance, and Tom began teaching biology at Hobbs High School.  One of his loves at the high school was being the sponsor of the science club and taking students on educational trips. When their daughter Teri Elizabeth was born in 1979, Tom also saw a need in the community to introduce young children three years and older to the world of computers; he started the first computer program for children in Lea County.  Along with this endeavor, Tom taught swimming and scuba diving, managed the country club pool, taught gym tots, and with Karen taught teens ballroom lessons in assembly at the country club.

In 1986, Tom returned to college and was accepted in the graduate program in psychology at Texas Tech University and then earned master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology.   After completing an internship in psychology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Tom returned to Hobbs to work at the Guidance Center of Lea County and later became the school psychologist for Lea County, a position he held for more than 20 years.  He also had a private practice in psychology.

During his life in Hobbs, Tom was a member of ABUCS, Rotary, American Red Cross (national representative and state coordinator for New Mexico) with a certification in disaster intervention, the Southwest Symphony as an original organizer, and the Miss New Mexico organization as its business manager.  Tom always supported education, arts, sciences and advocated for the wellbeing of children of Lea County.  Tom donated his library to the Department of Psychological Sciences of Texas Tech University.

Tom established scholarships in biology at Eastern New Mexico University and in psychology at Texas Tech University.  His greatest joys were his service for ten years as an on-field usher at University of Notre Dame football games, photography, collecting coins and stamps, and traveling.  His favorite photography subjects were sunrises, sunsets, waterfowl, polar bears, whales, and scenes from Bosque del Apache near San Antonio, New Mexico.

Tom is survived by Karen, his wife of 53 years; his daughter Teri E. Salb (TES) of Dallas, Texas; his sister Ellen Steeb of Portland, Oregon; his sister and brother-in-law Dorothy and Jerry Betts of Albuquerque; and in-laws Judy and Don Wagner, Mark Maciolek, Robert Maciolek, and William Maciolek of Albuquerque.

The family thanks all nurses, caretakers, and physicians of Nor Lea, Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, as well as Emme Gómez, Keith Manes, and Drs. Simon, Randers, Paulger, Quick, and Kurdi.

The family requests that instead of flowers donations be made to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, 1001 State Highway 1, San Antonio, NM 87832.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Thomas Salb, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, April 19, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Mountain time)

St. Helena Catholic Church

100 E. Bender, Hobbs, NM 88240

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