Tom Lea Elementary was named after a local artist, Tom Lea. Tom Lea was born on July 11, 1907 to Tom and Zola Utt Lea. He attended Lamar Elementary School and graduated from El Paso High School in 1924. He then attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1924-1926. Lea later traveled abroad, studying various artists and their works, throughout Europe. From 1941-1946, he was hired by Life Magazine as a War-Artist Correspondent assigned to document events during World War II. Upon completing this assignment, Lea returned home to paint, what he considered his best work, Sarah in the Summertime which was a portrait of his second wife and life partner, Sarah Lea. Tom Lea then traveled to Mexico to portray the history of beef cattle where he became very interested in bulls and bullfighting. This newfound interest prompted him to write his first novel titled The Brave Bulls (1948) which became a bestselling book as well as a popular movie. Although many of Tom Lea’s works are displayed throughout the city of El Paso including the mural titled Southwest in the El Paso Public Library, the Pass of the North mural which is found in the El Paso, Federal Building, and the Tom Lea collection which is located at the El Paso Museum of Art, his works transcend the El Paso area including the Rio Grande painting which hung in the oval office during George W. Bush’s presidency.
-Tom Lea Institute. “(n.d.)”. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from tomlea.net.