Writing about Tom Ware can be a huge challenge. After all, how do you write about a prism? There are so many interesting sides of his story, it can become dizzying.
Born and raised in Kansas, perhaps it was his father’s jewelry business that gave Tom his love of stones – rocks – gems that eventually led him to be a successful geologist in the gas and oil fields of Wyoming and Oklahoma. His mother was “a flapper.” Perhaps it was she who put a different kind of energy, let’s call it spunk, into this long-time Evergreen resident.
Tom earned degrees in geology at the University of Missouri. Additionally, he attended the Kansas Art Institute. “I was a cartoonist,” he said, “Mort Walker [of Beetle Bailey fame] was a Kappa Sig fraternity brother of mine. We put out a publication at the university. We drank beer and thought up cartoons,” he said with his signature close-lipped smile.
After working for Gulf Oil, he was drafted into the Army where he served in the 10th Mountain Division during the Korean War. He and his late wife, Maryanna (lovingly known as ‘Monk’), lived in both San Francisco and Tokyo where Tom made maps for the Army. The love he holds true for her is apparent as he brags how “she was the only woman on board the ship. She was never intimidated. She was great.” The signature smile reappeared.
Tom returned to the oil fields after the war. “I loved being out on the oil rigs all night long when others were asleep. You felt like you were the only life on the planet.” Asked if it ever got lonely he quickly replied, “Never. I read everything. I remember reading Cervantes out there.”
Well traveled, in addition to traveling throughout Europe, Mexico and even sailing through the Panama Canal, Tom and Monk sailed across the Gulf on a 40-foot boat. “I was the navigator,” he laughs. “I taught myself on the flight down there.”
When he headed into the office side of the fields, Tom lived in Denver, “but only for one year. I would look up at the mountains and asked myself what am I doing here?” They moved to a house on Evergreen Lake in 1961. Not one to sit idle, Tom long-served on the Metro District Board and the volunteer fire department. “The siren was on top of Evergreen Hill; it would knock me out of bed.”
He was also a charter member of Art for the Mountain Community, Evergreen Artists’ Association and has welcomed other artists in his home twice a week for sculpting and drawing workshops. “Some people have been coming for over 30 years.”
Tom also teaches drawing classes at Center for the Arts Evergreen, and “loves to teach young people. They have so much talent; it’s just great to help them discover it.” His “biggest interest in Evergreen is to establish a new art center. What we have is too small.” Tom has worked on this effort for more years than he wants to recall, “I think that right now we’re on the right track. With the help of the community, we’re going to see a new art center come to Evergreen.”
His sculptures grace our community, in front of the Lake House, library and the dam garden, not to mention being found in countless homes and businesses across the state and nation.
Beyond his art, friends and, of course, family, “I have two daughters, Catey and Laura, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild,” Tom is a voracious reader. This, of course, is because Tom is a consummate student. “You have to know what others have achieved or you’re just going to repeat the past. It’s so important to learn, to appreciate and then we, as a society can progress.”
What keeps Tom in Evergreen? I love living on the lake; it’s so beautiful. And, I have all these wonderful art friends.” And each of them could tell their own story about this multi-faceted man.