Antique Vintage 05

Thomas William Wardrop

January 18, 1945 ~ March 27, 2022 (age 77)

Obituary

On Sunday, March 27, 2022, the world lost a remarkable human being when Thomas William Wardrop passed away at the age of 77, succumbing to Parkinson’s Disease. He was surrounded by his family, including his wife and three daughters. Born January 18, 1945 in Skowhegan, Maine to Frederick and Shirley Boyd Wardrop, he grew up in Massachusetts with his brother Richard Wardrop. Known as Tom, Dad or Grandpa-Grandpa (and sometimes The Wardrop), he believed in arriving early and that 80% of success was showing up – going as far back as his perfect attendance award for the 1955-1956 school year. Just like his father, he was a light sleeper and a peanut-butter-cracker midnight-snacker who awoke every morning with tremendous optimism. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Tom played varsity football for Ashland and Holliston high schools and is noted for the year 1962 in the book, Holliston Panther Football: A Tradition of High School Football Excellence Since 1896. He thought that was pretty cool. He volunteered for a U.S. Marine Corps program in college during the Vietnam War and attended boot camp the summer before his senior year. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1967 with a BA in economics and a member of the Beta Kappa Phi Fraternity. To pay for his education, he took a job washing dishes for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority house. Upon graduation, he became the youngest executive for Kodak’s production planning division in Rochester, New York.

Tom received countless continuing education and professional accreditations, certifications, and personnel and service awards from distinguished organizations, such as The Wharton Business School, Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, The National Safety Council, and The Associated General Contractors of America. In 1987, while living in Arizona, he earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix. He was also proud of his “I Made A Pig Of Myself” ribbon from the Arizona location of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlours, after finishing their 6-scoop banana split. A master of public speaking, conversation, and crafted communication, he was a charter member and president of Toastmasters Clubs in three states. The game of Table Topics was one of his favorite icebreakers. If you had front row concert seats to any performer alive or dead, who would it be? Bob Dylan of course.

A consummate professional in his career of executive leadership, strategic business planning, corporate training, and human resource development for several major companies in New York, Maine, Arizona, and Maryland, he was always inquiring about the status of your 5-year plan. He had every resource, tool, solution, and logical process to help anyone achieve their goals. As his daughters embarked on their careers, he would suggest they buy one nice thing for themselves with each promotion to remember the accomplishment.

Tom LOVED automobiles, and his life could be illustrated in the cars and trucks he purchased for himself and his family. He had a wife and three daughters, so a lot of them got wrecked. Primarily a Henry Ford guy, he bought his first car before he was old enough to drive. There was a Porsche when he got married, Volkswagen Squarebacks when his daughters started arriving (one caught fire so he bought another one), Chevy pickups in Maine, light-color sedans in Arizona, and Ford Taurus SHOs (one got wrecked so he bought another one) along with minivans or SUVs to stock the antique stores that he and his wife Kathy ran in Maryland. For himself, if it wasn’t company-issued, he relished a good “parade car,” of which a completely restored 1969 convertible Camaro and all-original 1967 hardtop Mustang were the stars.

A road-tripper and outdoorsman, Tom visited many U.S. states and national parks and hiked several of the state peaks of the Appalachian Trail. A voracious reader of biographies, non-fiction, and self-development, he enjoyed American history and made sure every trip and vacation included a point of interest. He did most of his own landscaping and yardwork. He knew so much about trees; he could have been an arborist. He assisted in the design, construction, or renovation of every home his family lived in. On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, he built a shed entirely out of found and recycled materials. In fact, he was a builder and developer in all aspects of life, including family, profession, and community.

Tom had a keen eye for craftsmanship and quality. He knew in what era things were built, how and what they were made of, and if they were authentic. A genius at furniture restoration and bringing back the patina of vintage items, he purchased purposely and took proper care of every possession, like his 1970s Helly Hansen yellow fisherman’s raincoat from Cape Cod. A savvy purveyor, there was always time for a sale. He and Kathy spent a lifetime together plucking valuable finds from any yard, barn, flea, or auction. He recently remembered one of his top five picks. On his way to a business meeting in Washington, DC, early of course, he stopped at a yard sale and bought a Japanese Amari bowl for .50 cents. On his way home, he stopped at an antique dealer and sold it for 90 dollars.

Tom was avid about maintaining health of mind, body, and spirit. He engaged in puzzles, Sudoku, Scrabble, and any and all activities to keep the brain stimulated. He ate to live – breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. But, holidays and celebrations were 5-star, and sometimes 5-star was just a great pepperoni pizza. Exercise was important, and his workouts changed through the times from skiing and snowshoeing to tennis and racquetball to 5Ks, treadmills, hiking, and yoga. For him, a strong spirit was based in service. He volunteered for many community organizations and churches, including as a Eucharistic Minister to the sick and for the St. Vincent de Paul mission for people in need. He and Kathy were also volunteers of the month at the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

After retiring from corporate America, he worked for several non-profit organizations as a job coach for young adults with autism and disabilities. Tom also taught employment readiness courses and served as a faculty member for a local community college providing fatherhood courses for men with new families. He created a light-duty landscaping company, called The Yard Bees, for students attending The Benedictine School in Ridgely, Maryland. His donation of a 1950 Ford F-1 pickup truck and his work with the Chesapeake Center Inc. of Easton, Maryland earned him the dedication of their cafeteria, “Wardrop’s Way.” 

He had a wonderfully dry sense of humor and was a silly practical joker. His laugh was infectious, and his beautiful, full-teeth smile was a pearl. A traditional and proper renaissance man with modern intelligence, Tom raised his three daughters as modern women. Incidentally, modern was the only word he said with a Massachusetts accent (pronounced “mauden”). He was a good neighbor, a man of community and a patriot who bloomed wherever he was planted.

But, family was still the most important thing. Tom was a great husband and an amazing father. His daughters were collectively called “JenLizMerry,” yet he imparted his love, wisdom, and life skills to each individually. A man who raises only daughters has a special place and responsibility in the world, and Tom had much wisdom to pass along to his girls. He was there for dance recitals and gymnastics, softball and lacrosse games, mall drop offs and pickups, father/daughter dances and weddings, graduations and award ceremonies, comedy shows and grandchildren babysitting gigs complete with stuffed animal wars. He often forgot about the time difference between Maryland and Colorado calling at or before dawn with check-ins about life, kids, jobs and his signature salutation, “I didn’t want to let the day go by without wishing you a merry one.”  

Tom was cremated. As a minimalist, he wanted to leave a small footprint, and yet, his impact on the world was larger than life. His humble greatness often went unnoticed or quietly celebrated, which is exactly how he liked it. Tom’s family is considering the best place to honor and celebrate him, as well as his final resting place. It’s a difficult decision, in part due to what Tom shared in common with Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere man.”

Tom Wardrop leaves a legacy of loved ones.

Dedicated and beloved wife of 54 years, Kathleen Duncan Wardrop was Tom’s high school sweetheart.
Daughter, Jennifer Ann Wardrop (Jen) is married to son-in-law, Barry Heisey.
Daughter, Elizabeth Wardrop Qualman (Liz) is mother to grandchildren Madeline (Maddie) and Henry.
Daughter, Meredith Alice (Wardrop) D’Ambrisi (Merry) is married to son-in-law, Philip D’Ambrisi, and mother to grandchild Mia.
Brother, Richard Wardrop is married to Jan Wardrop and father of nephew Joshua and niece Sarah.
Maternal first cousin, Ann (Hastings) McGowan is married to Bernard McGowan and mother to Jennifer, Patrick, Jolene, Jill, and Jean.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Tom's name to The Assistance Fund or The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

 

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