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2015 Hall of Fame Inductee
Gordon Wade Tonips

Gordon Wade Tonips was born in 1950 around the Chilocco Indian School in Northern, Oklahoma where his Grandmother worked.  He could almost always be found in the Art Department drawing, painting and sculpting while being immersed in Indian culture. He proudly served in the Air Force from 1969-1971, where his duty was officially in supply but he actually assisted the local General with all the needed artwork at the time.

Gordon met and married Tomazane “Tommye” Rains of Benbrook in 1973. After a few years working for the City of Fort Worth in the Planning Department, he struck out on his own. He and Tommye opened their own small printing company on the East side of Fort Worth called Wampum Graphics, where he was heard to say "There is no money in it, but we are happy." After 19 years in the printing business Gordon’s calling finally changed to his Indian roots and he began to explore his sculpting talents full-time. It is reported that Tonips said "When I began to turn my talents to Native American art, I was encouraged by the Comanche artist and flutist Doc. Tate Navaquaya who guided me to follow my dreams.  He also told me if you want happiness; look in your own back yard. Thus I discovered these beautiful sandstone boulders and to my surprise they spoke to me with images of the ancient past. When I sculpt a stone, I travel into the past a thousand years and re-live the daily lives of the great people who built and lived in these sacred places.”  For the last fifteen years of Gordon’s life, he was an award winning sculptor, painter, dancer, story teller and living history reenactor.

Gordon Wade Tonips passed August 23, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas, survived by his wife of thirty-eight (38) years Tommye; son; Eric Tonips and wife Rachel; daughter; Ame Bynum and husband Anthony. Eric's four children; Kelsi, Karli, Gavin and Kenli. Ame's boys; Andrew and Colin Bynum.  Gordon’s mother; Almeta Tonips, sisters; Nina Taylor and Patty (Bea) Tonips, niece; Melody Fischer and her son Garrett Fischer.

 

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