The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of the University of Wyoming
University of Wyoming
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
By Micaela Myers
For more than three decades, Tommy Thompson, who had cerebral palsy, took pride in cultivating stunning flower gardens throughout UW’s sprawling Laramie campus.
“He was one of the kindest people I ever knew,” Dan Nelson says of his cousin. “I never knew anybody who didn’t like Tommy because of his wonderful, caring spirit for all of humanity. When you saw his smile and that hand raised to give you his special wave, it just made your day.”
That smile and wave are captured in a memorial to Thompson that was unveiled in September 2013 in the garden on the green just south of UW’s Merica Hall.
Thompson graduated from UW in 1958 with a degree in range management and began working in the university greenhouses. From there, he became a master floriculturist, creating memorable flower gardens across campus for all to enjoy. Thompson retired from UW in 1993 and died in 2010 at age 74. Friends soon created the Friends of Tommy Thompson campaign to raise money to create the memorial.
Throughout his life, Thompson impressed people not only with his gardens but also with his tremendous spirit.
Thompson always maintained a positive outlook, Nelson says. “It is that positive attitude that inspired everyone.”
Nelson says the sculpture pays tribute not just to Tommy but to all the UW staff who work to make the university what it is. “It honors all the service personnel who are so important to making the university function.”
“Take pride in your work” is a lesson Thompson taught all those he touched and one that will live on as generations of students pass by the gardens and memorial sculpture.
IMPACT: 33 years of beautiful campus gardens and ongoing inspiration for all those who know his story.