Meet Tom and Mary Ann Kleuser. They have been supporters of The WARM Place for over 25 years, but in December 2019, Tom surprised us with a large gift which he told us was at the request of Mary Ann, who died on April 23, 2019, after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Tom requested that this article should spotlight Mary Ann, since he is, in his words, “only the messenger.” Here are some of his thoughts on Mary Ann and her life of service and giving.
Tell us about your family.
Mary Ann and I met in 1977 when she was the director and the founder of the Occupational Therapy Department at Scott & White Clinic in Temple, Texas. I had just arrived to begin my residency in Orthopaedic Surgery. After four years, Mary Ann convinced me that I should marry her and take her to Fort Worth. Smart decision on my part. We departed Temple in the summer of 1981 to settle in my beloved hometown of Fort Worth. Mary Ann quickly grew also to love Fort Worth and all of our wonderful citizens. In addition to working as an OT, she was involved in numerous civic organizations and charities. We have three wonderful sons: George, Charlie, and John. George, along with his wife, Mailyse, and our 19-month-old grandson, Adrian Thomas, live in France.
When did you and Mary Ann first hear of The WARM Place?
One of the beloved co-founders of The WARM Place, Dr. John Richardson, was our boys’ pediatrician as well as a long-time family friend, so we had known about your mission from the 1980s. Ironically, Mary Ann passed away this last spring just one week before the loss of Dr. Richardson. My own father died in 1971 at the age of 47, leaving six kids behind. Mary Ann believed that a “WARM Place” concept would have been invaluable for my younger siblings in those difficult months that followed my dad’s death. Mary Ann was so grateful and supportive that Fort Worth now has a place for children and families in this critical time of need.
Why do you think Mary Ann chose The WARM Place for such a generous contribution?
Mary Ann believed in The WARM Place mission, and she (like everyone else) adored Dr. Richardson. In true “Mary Ann” fashion, she had kept a file listing all accounts, passwords, etc., with detailed instructions regarding charitable donations to be distributed at the time of her death. The WARM Place was one of her bequests, and I am honored to carry out her wishes.
What do you think Mary Ann would tell someone who was interested in getting involved with The WARM Place?
That it’s a wonderful organization and helpful to so many people over the years. Mary Ann left a letter for me and our sons to be read after her death. One of the things she said to our boys was,
There is much good in the world—be certain that you live your life so that you can contribute to the good.”
I believe that is what she would tell anyone about The WARM Place, that you are a part of the good in the world and please carry on that legacy.
At The WARM Place, our families love to share their favorite memories of their loved ones. What is one of your favorite memories of Mary Ann?
I have a lifetime of happy memories with my precious wife, but what stands out to me is how she was always a caregiver. Mary Ann generously gave of her time and resources to anyone or any organization that needed help. She would quietly go to help somebody in need, doing the things that no one else would think to do. She routinely sent flowers to folks in the month after their family’s loss. She was always a “giver,” never a taker. Mary Ann never liked anyone to make a fuss over her, although she did appreciate a simple thank you. During her illness, she found herself in the unusual predicament of now requiring others’ help. She never failed to say or to indicate to her caregiver, “thank you.”
Thank you, Mary Ann, for a life well lived and for remembering the families of The WARM Place!