Tres Wallower

Date of Birth

April 28, 1949

Date of Death

October 30, 2020

Tres Wallower: gentle giant, man about town, lover of all things American West: art, landscapes, canyon country, mountains, rivers and lore. Father, brother, friend to innumerable humans and animals, caring financial advisor to countless clients for decades, avid pursuer of his wide-ranging interests, loves and passions, died of complications from the rare foodborne bacteria listeria on October 30, 2020.

A man of easy laughter and quirky sense of humor, Tres was possessed of a huge spirit and commanding presence, which made him easy to spot in crowds and impossible to forget. His many circles of friends, colleagues, and fellow life travelers never stopped expanding. He left big shoes and a void that can’t be filled.

Born Herbert Hoover Wallower III (thus his nickname Tres, which stuck for life) to H.H. Wallower Jr. and Gail Johnson Wallower April 28, 1949, Tres grew up in Littleton, Colorado and loved spending time at his father’s family property in Evergreen. Horses figured prominently in his early years. Under the guidance of their expert equestrienne mother, he and his sisters became accomplished riders, competing in horse shows throughout the state.

Tres attended Colorado State University at Fort Collins, earning a degree in business. His varied post-college adventures in Denver included his own landscape design business (Earth Sign Exterior Design), a stint as a molybdenum miner, and door-to-door subscription sales for the first cable television in the area. A chance interview at a Dean Witter Reynolds office in a Sears store led to his lifelong career in financial services. Tres and Audrey Smerch were married in 1978, welcoming son Sage in 1982.

Making his way to Ojai with his family in 1984, Tres worked as a financial advisor and manager at Thompson McKinnon, was active in Ojai West Rotary Club and Semana Nautica in Santa Barbara, and became the proud father of daughter Sierra in 1988.

A trusted financial advisor for 35 years, Tres was known for personal service and client relationships cultivated over decades, which often evolved into friendships. Following his interest in sustainable and ethical investing, he developed knowledge and expertise, attending the Socially Responsible Investing in the Rockies conference for years. Since moving to Santa Barbara in 1997, Tres also served on the Board of the Community Counseling and Education Center, the Investment Advisory Committee of the Fund for Santa Barbara and was a member of the Sustainable Change Alliance.

His love of nature and adventure were realized in decades of hiking, backpacking and river trips. Legendary for scaling mountains and canyons in flip flops (including Mt. Whitney and the Grand Canyon), in midlife Tres initiated a ritual that would endure for many years: solo backpacking through riverbeds and remote canyons in southern Utah to find the ideal camp spot on a promontory, where he would awaken on his birthday morning to views of landscapes he loved.

With a passion for storms and all things weather-related, Tres became a sort of armchair meteorologist, monitoring satellite sites for incoming storms and could accurately predict–often down to the minute– when a storm cell would arrive, thus earning him many consults and yet another moniker: Weather Man.

Pursuing his diverse and eclectic interests with joy and energy, Tres discovered the field of Permaculture, which encompassed many of his personal interests. An enthusiastic student, he completed the Permaculture Design and myriad other courses. An active member of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, he traveled to Amman, Jordan for the 2011 International Permaculture Conference, visiting the magnificent sites of Petra and Wadi Rum. He also served on the Advisory Board of permEzone, and helped found the local chapter of the non-profit Slow Money.

A happy fixture at community events and an ardent fan of art and music, Tres rarely missed a First Thursday art event in Santa Barbara. A weekend without attending a live music performance felt incomplete to him. His love of food and belief in sustainable farming would find him every Saturday morning at Farmers Market, visiting with his farming friends and choosing organic produce.

We celebrate and remember Tres’ unique essence and his full, wonderful life. He will be deeply missed by his son Sage of Berkeley, CA and daughter Sierra of Kapolei, HI; sister Dee Wilhelm of Montrose, CO and brother-in-law Chuck; sister Pat Marshall and brother-in-law Doug of San Antonio, TX.; nephews Kyle and Ken Marshall; cousins with whom he remained close; his many friends and colleagues, and Cindy Iliff, who will think of and miss him every day.

The Mighty Tree has fallen, but his memory will continue to nourish us. Instilling in his children his love for and connection with both 2- and 4-legged animals, Tres proudly supported his daughter Sierra in bird rescue from her early childhood. With gratitude, charitable donations in his memory to: Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, an educational non-profit ( and/or Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network ( A remembrance and celebration of Tres’ life will be held at
Skofield Park in 2021 when it is safe to gather.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.