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Henry Thomas “Tom” Waring has done a lot over the 90 years of his life, from building affordable housing and high-end hotels in St. Mary’s County to helping usher in the modern era of St. Mary’s College of Maryland as a trustee and benefactor.

“I was here a long time as a trustee, and I loved it,” Waring said last Thursday during a 90th birthday celebration hosted by the college on campus.

Waring served on the college’s board of trustees from 1991 to 2005, and was named a trustee emeritus. Those were key years, especially early on, as the college made a transition to the designated title of a state honors college, President Joseph Urgo said.

“The school is a very unique place and I certainly hope it continues to be,” Waring said, adding that it is a model for young people who want a liberal arts education.

He said the college offers students important lessons, especially by offering a chance to experience other cultures through peers and travel.

“That’s just the kind of humility that goes with living in harmony with everyone, regardless of their race, regardless of their creed, regardless of anything,” Waring said. “It has got to be in the hands of children to change the miserable mess that my generation has left you with.”

Urgo said he has personally benefited from Waring’s “advice, counsel, critique and general wisdom.”

The college president described Waring as a generous benefactor, most evidenced through his funding of two initiatives to help students at St. Mary’s College.

The H. Thomas Waring Scholarship Fund supports students with financial need who are academically at risk, providing nearly $200,000 in aid to roughly 70 students during the last eight years.

The H. Thomas Waring World Fund, also established in 2004, has supported teacher education in the developing world. The fund has provided almost $50,000 in scholarships and travel expenses so far to 20 students in the college’s master of arts in teaching program to study abroad in Gambia.

Bill Roberts, the director of the college’s Gambia program, complimented Waring on his remarks last week about finding commonality in all of humanity.

“He understands how important it is to bring Muslims and [non-Muslim] Americans together,” Roberts said. The anthropology professor said that Waring’s contributions have made a real difference to the lives of college students here and people they have worked with abroad.

Waring is president of Cherry Cove Hospitality, a Lexington Park company that deals in lodging and real estate in St. Mary’s County. He founded the company in 1977 and has developed housing, including Lord Calvert trailer park, as well as high-end hotels and meeting spaces in and around St. Mary’s County like the Patuxent Inn and the Hampton Inn.

“My roots are here,” Waring said iafter the birthday celebration. He said he has relatives buried in Chaptico, and he spent most of his life in St. Mary’s after moving here at the age of 10.

In addition to his support of St. Mary’s College, Waring also contributes to the College of Southern Maryland and other community causes in St. Mary’s.

jyeatman@somdnews.com