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‘Friends of Tommy’ Raising Money for Sculpture at UW

(Oli Scarff, Getty Images)

A committee of ‘Friends of Tommy’ is working to place a statue on the University of Wyoming campus to honor Tommy Thompson and his 33 years of dedication to the campus. Thompson was a Laramie native who overcame significant physical odds to pursue his passion as a landscaper and gardener.

“We are preserving Tommy’s memory while honoring all campus employees who have inspired and influenced through small acts of kindness and deep interest in every person affiliated with the University of Wyoming,” said Pennie Espeland, a member of Friends of Tommy.

Tommy began working in the Laramie community when he was 14 by watering Undine and Washington parks before beginning work in the UW greenhouses for Otto Dahl in 1960. Espeland reports that when he retired in 1993, Tommy and the greenhouse staff had planted some 40,000 flowers, all grown from seed, to beautify campus.

After Tommy passed away in 2010, John O’Reilly Sullivan, who became a close friend of Tommy’s in college in the 1970′s, contacted a group of Laramie citizens he knew were also friends of Tommy and suggested the idea of a bronze statue to be placed on the UW campus. Devoted members of the committee now include artist Bob Seabeck, retired art professor Jim Knadler, Tommy’s cousin Danny Nelson and Pennie and Gary Espeland.

Well known Wyoming and Laramie sculptor Vince Valdez is creating the three dimensional form of Tommy working in the flowers. UW administrators Doug Vinzant and Roger Baahlman offered the location East of Merica Hall in the large circular flower garden for the placement of the bronze. In addition, UW will provide the materials and placement of the base.

“With this statue, we hope to honor all UW staff who have given that extra effort to create a beautiful and lasting impression of faculty, staff and student experience on the UW campus,” said Espeland.

The UW Foundation is receiving the donations to make the memorial a reality. The goal is to place the sculpture this fall and in order for that to happen $37,000 needs to be raised.

Tax exempt donations can be made through the UW Foundation by calling 766-3000, mailing a donation to 1200 E. Ivinson, emailing or visiting their donation website. For more on ‘Friends of Tommy’ you can call Espeland at 760-4888 and listen below to her interview on Laramie Live.

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