Age did nothing to diminish the vitality and youthful vigor of Amarillo philanthropist Mary Ware.
She water- and snow-skied and snorkeled until she was 75 and played tennis for another 10 years after that, her son Richard Ware remembered.
“She spent so much time with young people, whether it was us or other people around town,” he said. “She just had a young outlook on life and helped so many people.”
Mary Stack Ware died of natural causes Tuesday. She was 89.
Survived by her husband of 67 years, B.T. “Tol” Ware II, chairman of Amarillo National Bank, Mrs. Ware was known as a longtime champion of youth and an advocate for the development of the Harrington Regional Medical Center.
“The generosity of the Ware family is well-known in Amarillo and at BSA,” said Bob Williams, CEO of Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital. “And the gentleness and goodness of Mary Ware is even better known. We were blessed to have her.”
Born in Van Buren, Ark., she moved with her family to Texas and was elected the first Queen of Amarillo High School. She graduated in 1939. Almost 70 years later, in 2007, Mrs. Ware was selected to the Amarillo High School Sandie Hall of Fame.
After graduating from Amarillo College, located a block from her childhood home, Mrs. Ware attended the University of Texas and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. In 2006, she was named a Distinguished Alumna at Amarillo College, where she endowed a scholarship in her name.
“She was really proud of AC and pleased at what a good junior college it was,” said Richard Ware, president of Amarillo National Bank. “She encouraged our family and others to support Amarillo College.”
As her husband built Amarillo National into one of the country’s leading family-owned banks, Mrs. Ware built a legacy in philanthropy as towering as ANB’s signature downtown skyscraper.
She served on the Texas Panhandle Mental Health and Mental Retardation board of trustees and the Potter-Randall Citizens Committee that originally planned the city’s medical center.
“She was always real proud of how wonderful it turned out,” Richard Ware said.
Mrs. Ware and her family helped fund several projects in the medical center. Ware Tower at Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital, a six-story, 120-room expansion, opened in 2007.
BSA spokeswoman Mary Barlow spent a couple of hours talking with Mrs. Ware when she last visited the hospital.
“She had all of these incredible stories,” Barlow said. “She did so much for this community — starting the Art Alliance and the things for the medical center. It was wonderful to hear about her life.”
Mrs. Ware served as a board member of the United Way, Kids, Inc., the Amarillo Symphony Guild and the Amarillo Art Center as well as the Art Alliance and Panhandle Mental Health. She also was active in the Junior League, Junior Women’s Club and the Amarillo Garden Center before it became the Amarillo Botanical Gardens. And she was the first president of the Amarillo Banker’s Wives Association.
In 2003, Richard Ware, his brother Bill and their father gifted a 54-foot tall clock tower named in Mrs. Ware’s honor to Park Central Retirement Community in downtown Amarillo. When the clock tower was completed in 2004, Mrs. Ware snipped the green ribbon tied around the tower and “Amazing Grace,” filled the air for the crowd of 100 well-wishers.
“But without friends, I don’t think any of it would have too much meaning,” Mrs. Ware said then.
Barbara Yingling knew Mrs. Ware for 50 years, bonding with her two weeks after Yingling moved to Amarillo. They played tennis, ate Birthday Club lunch and laughed together. Yingling called Mrs. Ware the perfect lady, one who knew everyone’s name from the neighbors to the employees at the grocery store where she shopped.
“Boy, did she love Tol, and was she ever good to him, and was he good to her,” Yingling said.
Yingling described Mrs. Ware as her irreplaceable confidante.
“That’s my best friend gone.”
Mary Stack Ware is survived by her husband, Tol Ware II, and her sons Richard and Bill and his wife, Paige, all of Amarillo; six grandchildren, Anne-Clayton Ware of Dallas and Benj Ware, Pat Ware, William Ware, W. Tol Ware and Savannah Ware Singleton, all of Amarillo; four great-grandchildren; and a sister, Virginia Thornton of Amarillo.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Polk Street United Methodist Church with the Rev. Burt Palmer, senior pastor, and the Rev. W. Winfred Moore, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, officiating. Private burial will be in Llano Cemetery.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a favorite charity.
Source: By Cheryl Berzanskis,email@example.com
Metro Editor Matthew Hutchison contributed to this report.