Living Legends

Living Legend Award Dinner tickets now available!

The award ceremony and dinner for the 2024 Living Legends will be held on Friday, April 26 during the 2024 Ward World Championships. A reception will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Grand Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland!

2024 Living Legends: Paul Rhymer, Pam Morris & Tom Matus

The Living Legend Award recognizes individuals who have been long-time advocates for wildfowl art and the Ward Foundation. The award honors those who are generous in spirit and commitment to teaching others and passing on their knowledge, skills, and talents; and who have created an impact on the field of wildfowl art and/or the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival. For the 2024 Living Legend Award, we placed a special emphasis on service. Our three recipients are undeniably incredible servants to the carving community and have committed themselves to helping others within our cherished community. Please join us in celebrating our 2024 Living Legends: Paul Rhymer, Pam Morris, and Tom Matus.

Paul Rhymer
Pam Morris
Tom Matus

Paul Rhymer (Point of Rocks, MD) – After receiving an associate of arts degree in 1984 in painting and drawing, Paul Rhymer worked at the Smithsonian Institution doing taxidermy and model-making for twenty-five years. He retired in 2010. Having done so much three-dimensional work in his job, in the late 1990s, he gradually began to move from painting and drawing into sculpture.

In 2023 Rhymer was named Birds in Art Master Wildlife Artist. He is a Fellow with the National Sculpture Society and a Distinguished Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists. His work has been exhibited in Birds in Art at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin (2008-2023); the Society of Animal Artists Annual Exhibition (2007-2023); the National Sculpture Society Annual Awards Exhibition (2006, ‘09, ‘10, ‘12, ‘14, ‘17, ‘22 and ‘23); and the Brookgreen Gardens Masters Exhibition (2013). He had a solo exhibition at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in 2010.

Among his many public art installations are, the Briscoe Western Art Museum; Smithsonian’s National Zoo; Denver Zoo; NatureWorks Monuments, Tulsa, Oklahoma; the City Park, Hagerstown, Maryland; Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum; Shepard Park, Summerville, South Carolina; and B.I.R.D.S. Project, Summerville, South Carolina.

Pam Morris (Harkers Island, NC) – As the Collections Manager at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center, Pam became involved with the Ward Museum and staff member Lora Bottinelli at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival while organizing the Mid-Atlantic Carving Competition. In 2005, Pam was asked to try clerking at the Ward World Carving Championships then moved on to training as a floor captain in 2006 under Margaret Webb, Steve Brewer, and Helen Rogan. Since that time, she has been involved in every aspect of running the Competition each year and enjoys working with the many wonderful volunteers and staff of the Ward Foundation. Pam’s passion for decoy carving comes from her family, particularly her grandfather and great-grandfather’s decoys, both sought-after by North Carolina decoy collectors.

Tom Matus (Kuna, ID) – Tom Matus began carving his own hunting decoys and shorebirds with his father, Tony Matus, on the coast of Connecticut in 1980. Matus has won over 125 Best of shows nationwide and his most prestigious being named as a Ward Foundation Living Legend, class of 2024. He has also won 3 World Championship titles, Shootin’ Rig Worlds in 2000 with Red Breasted Mergansers, and in the new World Gunner, 2023-Brant, and in 2023-Wood Duck. His passion and focus is on working decoys. Matus has also authored two carving publications through Fox Chapel, carving a Drake Mallard and Antique Style Duck Decoys which has sold over 20,000 copies. He continues to pursue his love of duck hunting and has recently taken on photography, shooting more images than shells. He is also the owner/moderator of on Facebook (est. 1998) with over 8000 members helping spread techniques and guidance to new carvers. He currently resides in Kuna, Idaho, and works for Builders First Source as a Fleet Manager for the Mountain Region.

The Ward Foundation, Inc. strives to lead the way for advancing the understanding of wildfowl art and the interrelationships of art, nature and culture. Through educational programs, exhibits and events, the Ward Foundation builds upon the legacy of Lem and Steve Ward to bring young and old to a greater understanding of the human relationship to the natural world.

The Ward Foundation Living Legends fund is intended to allow donors to make restricted gifts for the continuation of the Living Legends awards.  Gifts of $150 or more will be published as contributors to the Living Legend Fund.  If you would like to contribute to this fund, select a Donation from the Online Store and choose “Living Legends” for your donation use.