The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
artist in the Windy City. During this time he and Nancy spent a few
months in Italy studying the pre-Renaissance frescoists. In 1933 they
moved to Santa Fe. There Tom continued painting, producing occasion-
al illustrations for New Mexico magazine, and working part time at the
Laboratory of Anthropology. He also turned out several murals for the
Hall of State at the Texas Centennial site in 1935-36. When his wife died
in 1936, Lea returned to El Paso for good. A year later Maud Durlin
Sullivan, the city's energetic librarian, encouraged him to get acquainted
with Carl Hertzog, a friendship that stimulated a revival of Hertzog's
interest in printing as a performing art. At the conclusion of a 1946 pro-
ject Hertzog wrote in his notebook: "As usual, Tom furnished the sparkle,
and I just worked out the details."
Their first collaboration was an inauspicious affair-a promotional ad
for the Del Norte Hotel-but other, more dazzling works would appear,
including a series of seven restaurant menus depicting conquistadors
and frontiersmen who had figured prominently in the region's past. Lea
provided artwork, and he and Hertzog jointly worked out a text.
Nineteen thirty-seven was pivotal for Lea in another way. His father was
one of J. Frank Dobie's favorite raconteurs, and when Dobie came to El
Paso in May of that year, he had just finished the manuscript of a book
about treasure hunting in the Southwest. Recognizing and appreciating
the full measure of young Lea's achievement, Dobie persuaded his pub-
lisher, Little, Brown & Company of Boston, to engage Tom as illustrator
for Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver (1939).
Upon completing illustrations for the Dobie book, Lea embarked
upon another mural, this one for the federal courthouse in El Paso,
titled simply, Pass of the North. It showed a procession of characters who
had made the trek over the centuries. Soon after returning to his
hometown, he made the acquaintance of Laura Lawson, who was from
a well-regarded El Paso family. But, as Shakespeare noted, the course
of true love never runs straight. Almost simultaneously each found
someone else. In Tom's case it was a handsome divorce, with a five-
year-old son, who had come to El Paso to visit mutual friends in May
1938. Friends saw to it that Tom and Sarah Dighton Beane met. Tom
was instantly smitten. Two nights later they dined alone at a local
restaurant, then he took her to see his work in progress at the federal
courthouse. Later that same evening they went for a drive in
McKelligon Canyon. After a thirty-six-hour courtship, Tom made the
smartest decision of his life: he proposed marriage, and she accepted
in principle the following evening. The marriage was in its sixty-third
year when death ended it. By word, gesture, and countenance they sig-
naled their devotion even as the days and decades shuttled by. She was
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/10/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.