5 May 2020
In Memoriam, Thomas B. Catron III
By Robert K. Meya
It is with great sadness that the Santa Fe Opera mourns the passing of Founding Member and Honorary Director Thomas B. Catron III on Friday, May 1 at the age of 98. Tom was a Santa Fe Opera legend. As a young lawyer in 1956, Tom was introduced to founder John Crosby. He became so convinced by the 31-year-old entrepreneur’s description of a new opera company that would foster the careers of aspiring American singers and be located in Santa Fe that he agreed to help get the project off the ground.
Tom’s service as a Board member is unparalleled. Over the course of six decades he held every Board office including President and Chairman, and served as the opera’s attorney and advisor. He gave generously of his time and resources, providing invaluable guidance and wise counsel at every stage in the company’s history. Even in times of difficulty — such as the devastating fire in 1967 which destroyed the original theater — Tom’s steady composure was a grounding influence for everyone around him, especially John Crosby.
Tom and his wife June both loved opera — and most of all the Santa Fe Opera. They had the remarkable record of attending every opening and closing night since 1957, except once when their granddaughter’s wedding in Philadelphia coincided with the season opening. June was there at his side every step of the way, offering invaluable assistance as one of the opera’s most loyal and active volunteers. Somehow, they managed to balance Tom’s busy legal practice with their community service, all while raising a family. Their love of the organization was infectious and their three children – Fletcher, Stephen and Peggy – also became avid opera fans.
Having learned about opera from an army buddy, Tom cherished the memory of hearing opera in Italy while being stationed there, and developed an appreciation and love for the art form. Tom was drawn to modern and lesser-known works as well as to the classics. When asked why he found opera so compelling, he simply stated how much he enjoyed attending each and every performance, and was enormously proud of the company’s success.
Tom was a champion of respectful relationships within the Santa Fe community, the nearby Pueblos and beyond. Tom’s passing is an immeasurable loss for the Santa Fe Opera and for the entire Santa Fe community.
We extend our deepest and most profound sympathies to June, their children and the entire Catron Family. The Santa Fe Opera will forever cherish Tom’s memory and his enduring legacy.
Susan F. Morris, Chairman
Susan G. Marineau, President
David Henry Jacobs, President-Elect
Robert K. Meya, General Director