From: Carl Kunath, 22 March 2002
Dr. Thomas E. Harding of Carta Valley,
It is with deep regret that I announce
the passing of Dr. Thomas E. Harding, 71, of Carta Valley, Texas. Tom
taken by cancer after a fight of little more than a year. On 22
2001, the end came quite suddenly and mercifully after a final illness
of only 2-3 days. Private services were held at the ranch and his ashes
scattered on the hills that he so loved. Tom is survived by his wife of
28 years, Lolly, and three children.
To some of you, the name may not be
but to many of us it is a tragic loss and something of a milestone.
in a very great while, we are blessed with an exceptional host for our
caving activities. Tom was such a person and his kindness and
will surely be missed in the years to come. Tom’s family owned 20,000
of typical Carta Valley ranchland but Tom had spent the previous years
in the veterinary business in San Antonio and had only recently
to Edwards County to take over the ranch. In 1968, we followed a lead
made his acquaintance. Tom was not your typical Carta Valley rancher!
He showed us to Midnight Cave and
with great interest as we vanished into the entrance pit. Later that
after initial exploration, we returned to his home to report and found
a wonderful meal waiting for us. In we went, perspiration, mud, guano,
and all. On later visits, we had slide shows and once I took him on a
tour of the cave via the newly opened lower entrance. Tom did quite
as a novice caver, and negotiated the Corkscrew with little difficulty.
He was very interested in his cave and asked many questions.
As time passed, Tom remained an
and protective owner. He readily granted permission to install a gate
the lower entrance and he understood that visitors should be reviewed.
The saga of the Michel Siffre "Beyond
adventure is far too long for this occasion, but the resulting
caused an enormous increase in visitation and I’m sure requests must
been something of a burden for Tom and Lolly. Nonetheless, requests
seldom refused and Midnight Cave became a mainstay of Texas cavers.
Unfortunately, Tom was not a great
and years might pass without contact. Yet, the thread was easily picked
up when we did meet. I last saw Tom in 1994 when I stopped by his ranch
to visit with him about some details as The Caves of Carta Valley
was nearing publication. We sat in the back yard under sunny skies and
talked of music, guns, caves, politics, Cockatiels, women and hunting –
not necessarily in that order. It was a fun afternoon for friends of 26
Regrettably, the caver world was slow in
receiving the news of his passing but Lolly remains at the ranch and
not too late to send a card or friendly thought to:
E. (Lolly) Harding
One day soon, I’m going to Midnight
to Harding’s Hall. I’ll sit down, turn off my light and have a big shot
of Mescal in his memory! Tom thought it made good window cleaner!