Thomas Dubois Hormel, 88

Published 9:59 am Saturday, March 23, 2019

Thomas Dubois Hormel, 88, a native of Austin, Minnesota, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, a day before his 89th birthday.

Tom was born Feb. 3, 1930, to Germaine Dubois and Jay Catherwood Hormel. He was the grandson of Lillian Belle and George A. Hormel, founder of Geo. A. Hormel & Co., now Hormel Foods. Tom was brother to Geordie Hormel and Ambassador James C. Hormel.

Thomas Dubois Hormel, 88

A graduate of Occidental College, Tom served four years in the U.S. Coast Guard. His early career pursuits reflected his infinite curiosity and included an art gallery, a boat-building business, a tropical fish store, a charter helicopter operation, a real estate development company, and a natural foods store and restaurant.

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He was most proud of his work as an environmental activist and philanthropist. Founder of the Global Environment Project Institute and co-founder of the East African Environmental Network, Tom also supported Conservation International, Friends of the Earth, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the League of Conservation Voters, and others.

At the same time, he profoundly believed that local action was key to change. While living in Ketchum, Idaho, he helped found the 6th Street Environmental Center, supported the Snake River Alliance, and organized the first GlobeScope Idaho Conference. In Los Angeles, California, he was a supporter of Tree People. Long before the Internet was widely available, Tom conceived and put resources into an information network to foster coordination and communication among local environmental groups. In 1996, he was named to the U.N. Environment Program’s Global 500 Roll of Honor.

Tom had a contagious passion for visual art and music. He produced an expansive body of painting, photography, and avocado seed carvings. He wrote his first song, “Blue September,” at age 14, and later composed and orchestrated works ranging from classical to Baroque to Latin jazz. In 2018, his ballet “Legend of Bird Mountain” was choreographed by Graham 2 of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and performed with the South Florida Symphony Orchestra. Despite severe tremors and neuropathy that robbed him of nearly all motor skills, Tom created music into the last weeks of his life.

Tom was a man of unbridled humor, generosity, and uncanny attention to detail. He will be missed by his family, friends, and all who worked closely with him.

A “Tom Hormel Music Celebration” will be held in his honor at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the Gusman Concert Hall at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. It will feature his original piano and big band works, as well as a new orchestral suite, “New York Variations.”