ForeverMissed
Tom Warth, of Berea, Kentucky, passed away on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 from complications of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Tom was born on August 25, 1943 and raised in Royal Oak, Michigan. He attended Alma College, where he met his future wife Jane Closs. The two were married after graduation, in 1965. He began a career at Michigan Bell; he continued to work there until moving to Highlands, NC in 1990 to assume the position of CEO of The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center. After leaving The Mountain, he moved to Brevard, NC. Tom and Jane retired to Berea, KY in October of 2014.

Tom’s life’s work was dedicated to the fight for social justice, equity and peace. He shepherded The Mountain through both good and challenging times. Tom was a dynamic leader, an inspiring speaker and a person of tremendous vision. More than anyone else, Tom was responsible for putting in place the conservation easement that will preserve the Mountain forever as a place of undeveloped, natural splendor. Throughout his life he gave his time and support to local organizations and churches working for peace, justice and education, serving on multiple boards and volunteering.

Tom used his keen business sense and unparalleled leadership to try to make this world a better place, but his passion was music. He found a perfect balance to his beautiful baritone singing voice with his best friends Shelley and Ian Denham, and wife Jane, when they formed the Mountain Quartet. The Quartet travelled the country and Europe sharing their music, with an uncanny ability to make audiences laugh, cry, but most importantly fill their hearts and minds with love and hope. The Quartet continued to sing together until the deaths of Ian and Shelley Denham in 2013.

After moving to Berea, Kentucky, they joined Union Church, where they continued to make music as members of the church choir. The Union Church became a new family, and a great source of strength throughout his illness.

To the outside world, Tom was a passionate leader, always learning, always trying to make the world better. To his family and friends, he was a caring husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. When he turned his bright blue eyes to listen intently, no matter the issue, one was filled with confidence that everything would be alright. He embraced those in need, and carried himself with graceful empathy. Tom was a bright light of hope for all who loved him.

He leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Jane Warth, his son Todd, grandson Haydon and many family and friends. He will be missed by the thousands of people who journeyed to the Mountain on his watch, and thousands more who in future decades will experience his legacy at the unique natural sanctuary in North Carolina. 

Plans for a memorial service are on hold due to the pandemic. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Union Church Music Fund in Berea, Kentucky, Heifer International or to your local humane society. 

Posted by Susanne Walker on August 25, 2021
We think of you so often, We love you and miss you!  A birthday toast to you today!
Susanne & Mark
Posted by Edward R. Garrison on December 18, 2020
I lived in what was then Cole House at Alma College for (I think it was) the 1964-65 academic year, in one of the early years after the college established the "small housing" units for carefully selected students. Tom was clearly the "heart and soul" of this group of about 10 young men (many of them accomplished singers in college programs), and continually helped to establish and maintain a fulfilling community ethic in Cole House. I am not at all surprised to read of the many significant community contributions that Tom made over his lifetime. I regret to read that his latter years were challenging, but please know that he is and will be long remembered with fond memories by those who knew him. Ed Garrison, Alma College Class of 1968
Posted by Gerry Azzata on July 8, 2020
Jane, I am so sorry to hear of Tom's death. I have such fond memories of The Quartet and realized that you are the last one still with us. My heart is with you during this sad time. But then I remembered that incredibly funny dinner at your house in Brevard - Croatian, was it? And that made me smile. Hoping that you will find comfort in the memories of your long life together. - Gerry
Posted by Peter Bateman Mockridge on July 8, 2020
Know that Tom will reside in my thoughts . . . First his wisdom, then the Quartet.  Such tight harmonies and such connectedness within that group. Thanks be for Tom - and for you, Jane.
Posted by Joyce Pearsall on July 7, 2020
My heartfelt condolences, Jane and family. In addition to all of the above, he was an amazing window washer. Their home windows sparkled. But I couldn't get him to come to our house to do that! We were fortunate to had heard the Mountain Quartet sing with their amazing voices. He will be forever missed.
Posted by Fran Howe on June 10, 2020
Tom was a part of my life for over 55 years. He and Jane and I were in college together. Tom was the leader of the Independents (the non frat guys)
He and his friends would play sports together and serenade the girls outside our dorm windows.

After college Tom was a leader in gathering our friendship group for partying, dinners, camping outings. Always a good time.

Tom was not afraid of a challenge or adventure. From working in corporate life to owning his own restaurant, to managing The Mountain for years he was a leader . He was creative, energetic, ethical and for social justice.

Adventure included taking a trip to Australia just to visit friends for the weekend.!!
Tom loved his family and was devoted to their well being. He made deep and long lasting friends especially with his singing peers.

Integrity, loyalty, truth fun and caring. We were all blessed to have his friendship.

Fran Howe
Posted by Steve Pond on May 31, 2020
Jane and family,
I'm so sorry to hear of Tom's passing. I truly enjoyed working for him and talking with him on so many occasions. My sympathies and prayers are with you all.

Steve
Posted by Marrianne Zelinski on May 25, 2020
So saddened to hear of Toms passing, great neighbors and friends in Lake Geneva. Many good memories in the 70’s especially the many exciting trips and Dinners with the “Gormet” Gang! When
You moved out, it was never the same. So we moved on too. Life goes on but friends like you and your family are never forgotten, still cherished and missed. Addresses may change but
good people are forever. Love and prayers to you and your families.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Susanne Walker on August 25, 2021
We think of you so often, We love you and miss you!  A birthday toast to you today!
Susanne & Mark
Posted by Edward R. Garrison on December 18, 2020
I lived in what was then Cole House at Alma College for (I think it was) the 1964-65 academic year, in one of the early years after the college established the "small housing" units for carefully selected students. Tom was clearly the "heart and soul" of this group of about 10 young men (many of them accomplished singers in college programs), and continually helped to establish and maintain a fulfilling community ethic in Cole House. I am not at all surprised to read of the many significant community contributions that Tom made over his lifetime. I regret to read that his latter years were challenging, but please know that he is and will be long remembered with fond memories by those who knew him. Ed Garrison, Alma College Class of 1968
Posted by Gerry Azzata on July 8, 2020
Jane, I am so sorry to hear of Tom's death. I have such fond memories of The Quartet and realized that you are the last one still with us. My heart is with you during this sad time. But then I remembered that incredibly funny dinner at your house in Brevard - Croatian, was it? And that made me smile. Hoping that you will find comfort in the memories of your long life together. - Gerry
Recent stories

Tom's Memorial Service Info

Shared by Megan Denham on August 19, 2020
Memory Keepers,

Following Tom's death on May 20th, I wanted to honor his life with a Memorial Service, and thought perhaps I should wait until after the end of the pandemic  when we could all be together.   As time has gone by, it appears that the pandemic will not be over any time soon.   

So, I met with our Minister, Rev. Kent Gilbert and together we have planned a unique service for Tom to be held August 22nd (the closest Saturday to Tom's birthday) at 2:00 PM.  It will be broadcast live on Facebook, YouTube and on the church web site.   

At this time, Union church can safely hold only 20 people, so I can only have family and close friends in the Union Church sanctuary. So I hope you can attend via the live broadcast.  I will attach the instructions for watching the memorial service and hope that you will be able to participate.  Please join me in remembering Tom through this special service.

I wish I could extend my hand to shake and give you a hug but in light of current regulations, it cannot happen. I look forward to the day - however far away it might be - when we can be together again. 

Hugs, Jane- 

Instructions:

BASIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR WATCHING THE UNION CHURCH SERVICE 

1. If you have a Facebook account, simply go to Union Church Berea https://www.facebook.com/pg/UnionChurchBerea/ (and "Like" our page if you haven't!). Scroll down a bit until you see the video! Turn up the volume and join us! We love it when you comment, greet each other and welcome newcomers!

2. If you do NOT have a Facebook account but you DO have internet, you can still watch! Just go to https://www.facebook.com/UnionChurchBerea/.You can choose to make an account, or simply click "Not Now" and scroll down on the page until you see the video. Turn up the volume and join us!

3. You can also watch at Union Church's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbN9CCE4_RXv3pk43z3Xbig. Subscribe!

4. Or watch at Union Church's website: https://union-church.org/live-broadcast/

5. If you miss Saturday's service, you can catch up on Facebook, the website or YouTube.