Obituary: Tom Jones
July 24, 1936 – February 20, 2023
Thomas William Jones, co-founder of Wilderness Sports, died Feb. 20 in Scottsdale, AZ. He was 86.
Tom grew up in Steamboat Springs, where he played basketball, skied, and learned to camp, hunt, and fish. After earning business and engineering degrees at the University of Colorado in Boulder, he joined the U.S. Army. Serving in Germany, he met Mary “Mae” Lorang, a civilian nurse, and they married in 1962.
In 1965, Tom and Mae returned to the U.S. where they had their only child, Tom Jr. After a five-year stint in France with General Electric, Tom heeded the call of his beloved Colorado mountains to realize his dream of owning his own business. In 1976, Tom and Mae opened Wilderness Sports in Silverthorne’s Summit Place Shopping Center.
The business thrived and grew to four locations in Dillon, Silverthorne, and Frisco, and gave Tom the opportunity to provide charity for causes in Summit County and nationally. An avid Nordic skier and cyclist, he was eager to sponsor local races and events. He also gave liberally to environmental causes. The Jones family sold Wilderness Sports in 2011.
Tom’s less well-known charity involved donations of equipment, footwear, and outdoor apparel to children who might not otherwise afford it. In the 1970s, he volunteered as packmaster of the Summit County scouts clubs. He coached youth basketball, taught backcountry skills to young people, and later became a Big Brother.
In 2010, Tom and Mae divorced after 48 years of marriage, and both left Summit County. He spent time between Rio Verde, AZ and Montrose, CO.
As friends, family, and employees remember, Tom Jones had an edge and not always the most serene personality. But beneath the gruff exterior was a compassionate man who cared deeply for those same people and for the wild, natural places in Colorado. He seemed most content spending nights in a tent at a nameless lake packed with cutthroat trout high above timberline. Near one of those lakes, his ashes will soon mingle with a peaceful Colorado breeze.
Tom Jones is survived by his former wife, Mae (Lorang) Jones, son Tom, a granddaughter, and sister Sharon (Jones) Miller.
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