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Thomas B. Catron III

Honored June, 2007




Thomas B. ' Tom' Catron III

Coming from one of the most illustrious (and perhaps notorious) families in the American era in New Mexico, Thomas B. Catron III faced high expectations from the start. He has exceeded them all.

His first forebear in New Mexico was his grandfather, Thomas B. Catron I, a driving force for New Mexico statehood, its first U.S. senator, and the man for whom Catron County is named. Yet he also was involved in the old Santa Fe Ring and the Lincoln County War, and his place in history is murky. But surely it is prominent.

Born into this tradition, Tom Catron shouldered the family mantle and carried it to new heights, raising the bar for future generations. After childhood in Santa Fe, U.S. Army overseas duty in World War II, and law school at Stanford, "Tommy" Catron returned to his home town to make his mark. And what a mark it has been.

His contributions just kept piling up, with top leadership positions with the United Fund, Boy Scouts, Historical Society of Santa Fe, Rio Grande Symphony, Santa Fe County Bar Association and other organizations. He won an award for historical preservation.

But far beyond supporting worthy causes, Tom made new things happen. A passionate devotee of opera, he was a founding director of the Santa Fe Opera in 1956, then served as its board president, and established the SFO Foundation in 1976. In 1962 he led the drive for the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, then headed it for 25 years. He was instrumental in establishing the Girard Wing of the Museum of International Folk Art. He led efforts for the Fairview Cemetery Association and the Colonial Arts Museum.

He was a founder of the locally oriented Capital Bank in 1972.

Tom's most eloquent testimonial came from his daughter Peggy, who gave equal praise to his wife and partner, Peggy's mother June. "I knew our house was different, since it was full of Verdi and Strauss instead of Sinatra and Welk," Peggy said. And as for Tom's love of the land: "He taught me the trails and gave me the chance to fall in love with the pine- and aspen-scented thin air--and with joy I have passed that on to my husband and our children."


Story by Richard McCord

Photo © 2007 Steve Northup