Weston Ware, a leader in the fight against legalized gambling both during and after his time with the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, died April 6. He was 88.
As director of citizenship and public policy for the CLC, he testified frequently before the Texas Legislature in the 1980s and 1990s. In retirement, he continued to serve as chair of the board for the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (now Stop Predatory Gambling) and on the board of Texans Against Gambling.
Praised as a role model and ‘hero’
Friends and former colleagues praised him on social media as “a role model,” “a giant,” “a hero” and “an uncommonly good man committed to the common good.”
Suzii Paynter March, former CLC director, referred to Ware as “a great influence on me and so many others.”
“He delighted in his colleagues and his delight was shared in a big welcoming smile and words of kind affirmation,” said March, who went on to become executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and now is CEO of Prosper Waco. “He was humorous without cynicism although he tackled some difficult issues in the fiercest of political arenas.
“He lived advocacy with the presence of the Holy Spirit—accompanying his colleagues, nudging his opponents and occasionally bringing tongues of fire in humor or by giving voices and access to the voiceless.”
Stephen Reeves, director of advocacy for CBF and executive director of Fellowship Southwest, fondly recalled “walking the halls of the Texas Capitol” with Ware and Phil Strickland, longtime director of the CLC.
“Weston was kind and wise, quick with a smile and a joke, a tough old-school Texan whose compassionate faith led him to what many would consider progressive policy positions,” Reeves said. “His fierce opposition to gambling came, in part, from a conviction about how government should treat people. I feel fortunate to have called him friend and will miss him.”
Director of federal volunteer agencies
Weston Wakefield Ware was born Jan. 11, 1933, to J.W. and Myrtle Barber Ware in Dallas. His family moved several times before ultimately settling in the Rio Grande Valley, where as a youth he ran track, played basketball and became fluent in Spanish.
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At age 17, he served as a summer missionary in Brazil when he was 17, hitchhiking to Florida for the flight to Rio, where he added to his language skills by becoming conversant in Portuguese.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor University and several degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he was a student of pioneering Christian ethicist T.B. Maston.
After seminary, he served as a Baptist pastor in Texas and directed Baptist student ministries in Hawaii two years.
From 1966 to 1982, he worked for the federal government, holding director positions with volunteer agencies including the Peace Corps in Panama, and VISTA and ACTION agencies in Puerto Rico, New York and Texas.
After his federal service, he went to work with the CLC, serving until his retirement in 1988.
His family recalled Ware loved to sail in his younger years, including a memorable trip with his son sailing from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands. In later years, he enjoyed restoring Cadillacs and LaSalles from the late 1930s.
Lifelong learner and committed Christian
As a lifelong learner, Ware took online French lessons into his 88th year, and he maintained his Spanish fluency by teaching classes and preaching in Spanish.
He was a longtime member of Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas who “invested time and energy in his church, church leadership, and the people around him, creating new friendships that were precious to him while somehow also sustaining and enjoying lifelong connections,” his family stated, adding many ministers counted him as a friend and confidante.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Charlotte Eddings Ware; their infant daughter Caroline; and his three brothers, Browning, Broadman and Conwell.
He is survived by son Cameron and his wife Wendy, daughter Keren Cummins and five grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held online at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, hosted by Cliff Temple Baptist Church. To attend the service, register at clifftemple.org/memorial. In lieu of flowers, memorials or donations may be made to the T.B. Maston Foundation or Stop Predatory Gambling.