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UW honoring man who created distinctive gardens

Sep 3, 2013 - From staff reports

A new University of Wyoming landmark honors Tommy Thompson, a master floriculturist who cultivated the university's beautiful flower gardens for three decades.

The gardens focused on cool-weather flowers such as snapdragons and flowering cabbage that would be in full bloom when football season opened, with distinctive spacing and rock paths in most gardens.

A sculpture of Thompson tending one of the gardens he loved will be unveiled Saturday, Sept. 7, at 10:30 a.m. at the garden on the green south of Merica Hall at 11th and Ivinson streets.

The ceremony is open to everyone.

Overcoming cerebral palsy, Thompson earned a bachelor's degree from UW in range management in 1958 and started working in the UW greenhouses in 1960.

He rose to greenhouse supervisor and floriculturist by his retirement in 1993, after working 33 years at UW.

Thompson died in 2010 at age 74.

The bronze sculpture weighs roughly 400 pounds and is about a quarter larger than life-sized. Wyoming artist Bob Seabeck created the artist renderings for the work, sculpted by Laramie artist Vince Valdez.

About 130 individuals, businesses and organizations contributed to a fundraising campaign organized by the "Friends of Tommy Thompson" committee.

Thompson "was often seen on his hands and knees, laboring alongside his seasonal helpers, ensuring the campus' beauty," according to the ceremony invitation.

"Through his extra physical efforts, engaging smile and a wave for everyone, Tommy was a much-loved, special and unique ambassador for UW.

"This sculpture also honors all UW staff and service workers who provide essential services to the University of Wyoming."

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