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Retired UTPA professor leaves behind a legacy
Contact: Amanda Perez, Intern (956) 665-2741
Posted: 10/14/2010
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Dr. William Smiley Ware, 89, emeritus professor from The University of Texas-Pan American, died Sept. 13. 2010, but his legacy of teaching lives on. To keep his tradition of education alive, the Ware family is asking family and friends of the professor to support students through contributions to the UTPA Foundation.

Dr. William Smiley Ware, emeritus professor at UTPA, died Sept. 13, 2010 at Harlingen Medical Center following a brief illness. Family and friends request donations be made to the UTPA Foundation in his honor.

The family will host a memorial service on the morning of Oct. 23 at St. Andrews by the Sea in Port Isabel, followed by inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia Dec. 23, with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, the Ware family is requesting that donations be made in his name to the UTPA Foundation for educational and scientific purposes to benefit the students Ware enjoyed teaching so much.

Ware earned his bachelor of science degree in 1948 from the University of California, graduating with the highest honors. He continued with post-graduate work in genetics and was a research and teaching assistant in animal husbandry. In 1952, he completed his dissertation on the genetics of dwarfism in beef cattle and received a doctorate in philosophy.

Soon after, Ware became a tenured faculty member at UTPA in 1952, when it was still known as Pan American College. He also worked as the division director of agriculture and technical arts and served as the first chairman of the math and science department and the chairman of the biology department. He retired in 1983.

Dr. Miguel Nevarez, former UTPA president, and Dr. Robert Feldtman, now a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon in Dallas, were two of Ware's students during his time at the institution.

Nevarez took a course with Ware back in the late 1950's and, although it was more than 50 years ago, he said he still remembers his distinct style of teaching.

"I took one biology course with him long ago, but from what I can remember it was a good class, I learned a lot and he gave us a lot of hands-on learning with materials and specimens," Nevarez said. "His hands-on style was a good approach to teaching particularly in the areas of biology and agriculture and he should be remembered for that. I believe other students thought very much of him also."

Feldtman, who graduated from Pan American College in 1968, with a bachelor of science, said Ware was a big part of why he decided to pursue his career and go to medical school.

"Dr. Ware was a caring humanitarian who was instrumental in my decision to become a doctor," Feldtman said.

During the three decades Ware worked at UTPA he realized there was a demand for nurses in the community, so he initiated the first nursing program. In addition, he also gave his students many opportunities beyond the classroom. He established the UTPA Coastal Studies Lab on South Padre Island. When he discovered many of his students had never traveled out of the Valley, he organized educational field trips and took them to places such as King Ranch in Kingsville and stock shows in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.

Being an avid golfer, Ware coached the golf team while at UTPA and was a big fan of the UTPA athletics program and Jim Brooks, who was UTPA athletic director, coach and professor.

Bill Morris, the Director of Students Data Analysis and Projects Office, said in 1969 he was employed with the registrar's office and worked closely with Ware on the administrative side.

"He was a pretty popular faculty member because he cared about his students and wanted the best for them ," Morris said. "His heart was in the right place and I feel he should be remembered for being a knowledgeable faculty member who worked to make his students successful."

When not in the classroom, Ware was as an active leader in his community serving as an elections official for Hidalgo and Cameron counties, on the Edinburg Planning and Zoning Commission, the Water District Board and a Livestock Show judge. He also worked for the U.S. Census 2000 campaign, going house to house in South Padre Island and surrounding communities.

Ware also served his country earning numerous service medals for his achievements and heroism. His days in the military started in 1942 when he entered cadet training and active duty in the Air Force in California. He also completed a tour as an instructor pilot and made supply and troop drops around the world in places such as North Africa, India and China. His career in the armed forces led him to fly 101 missions in the European Theater Operations and hold the positions of operations officer, group commander, lieutenant and major.

After retirement from UTPA , Ware moved to South Padre Island, where he started flying again and enjoyed the beach, collecting antiques, card games, word puzzles and telling funny stories.

Many who knew Ware feel honored to have known him and worked with him. Many describe him as a one of kind professor with the students best interest at heart.

"He was certainly a scientist and the best of educators, he embodied the rare breed that blazed a trail for Pan American to become known in the realm of higher education," Feldtman said. "I am blessed to have known him."

For more information on making donations to UTPA in honor of Ware, contact University Advancement at (956) 665-5301.