TOM C. PEMBERTON November 10, 1931 to April 4, 2008
Tom C. Pemberton, celebrated bronze sculptor and island resident for 23 years, began his final journey April 4, 2008, when he passed away peacefully at home in Friday Harbor where he had his art studio and foundry. He was born November 10, 1931, in Dallas, grew up in Chicago and Louisiana, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University.
1999 he wrote Bronze on the Rocks, a comprehensive explanation of how he carved, cast and finished his bronze sculpture. The last page was titled: The Journey So Far:
"I began to define myself as an artist in the late 60s. I started making sculpture of welded steel but when I was introduced to the beauty of bronze, this became the focus of my artistic life. . . Since then I have taught myself to carve wax, pour patterns, invest, cast and finish them. . . I have built and operated seven foundries in Oregon, California and Washington. I've worked as a products engineer in two different Portland casting companies. For two years I was Artist in Residence at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California, and taught sculpture classes; the plaque I carved and cast for a well-loved coach is still in place in a memorial garden on the campus.
I have had my own shows and my sculpture has sold in galleries and is on permanent museum display. . . I have lived through times sad and wonderfully happy, tough and funny, have sold sculpture for high prices and also wondered how I would buy my next meal. In Friday Harbor I carve, cast and finish sculpture in my studio and shop, with the equipment I have built, just forty feet from Griffin Bay. Seagulls and mergansers and a blue heron are my neighbors. During the past 33 years, I have been on an incredible journey in art and in life - and I am still on the road. . ."
Tom considered life to be an adventure full of infinite possibilities. He loved his family, his friends, his art and this island community. He felt that the placement of Puddles, his life-size bronze sculpture of two children in front of Friday Harbor Elementary School, was both an honor for him and a legacy for future generations.
He will always be in the hearts of his family: Emily Reed, daughters Gretchen and Rachel Pemberton, son-in-law Raul Brena, grandchildren Sasha and Eva Brena, Christian, Sunny and Jacob Bannick, and sister Sherry Ridnour.
A celebration of his life will be held this summer. Remembrances can be made to:
Emergency Medical Services P.O. Box 1518 Friday Harbor, WA 98250
or a program or charity of your choice.
Tom's favorite poem was by Langston Hughes:
"Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams for if dreams go,
life is a barren field covered with snow."
The Family of Tom Pemberton