Dr. Thomas J. Parmley, educator, research scientist, and church leader, passed away on September 15, 1997, in his home in Salt Lake City, a few weeks short of his 100th birthday.
During a career that spanned more than 50 years, he taught physics to over 40,000 students at the University of Utah. Dr. Parmley received numerous awards for his dedication to teaching and was renowned for his individual attention to students. His enthusiastic classroom style included humorous demonstrations that became a campus institution and attracted many non-physics students. Chairman of the Physics Department from 1957 to 1963, Dr. Parmley was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Utah in 1982 and was honored as the University's Centennial Professor in 1996.Dr. Parmley was actively involved in early nuclear research at the cyclotron, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley. He also completed projects with the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Bureau of Standards. For more than a decade, he served as Radiological Chief for Civil Defense for the State of Utah. He also founded the Academic Year Institute to further train Utah's high school science teachers.
Throughout his life, Dr. Parmley was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served on the Sunday School General Board from 1957 to 1971 and traveled extensively with his wife, LaVern W. Parmley, then General Primary president, visiting church units around the world. From 1957 to 1973, Dr. Parmley gave weekly lectures on the relationship between science and religion to thousands of new LDS missionaries at the Salt Lake City Mission Home. He was active in the Timpanogos and Ensign Clubs, and, with his wife, in many civic and charitable organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America.
His mother, Mary Veal Parmley, widowed in the Scofield mine disaster of 1900, insisted that Tom further his education, leading to his graduation in physics from the University of Utah in 1921. In 1927, he earned a Ph.D in physics from Cornell University. His excitement for teaching physics never abated, often leading to impromptu demonstrations to grandchildren and tutoring in math and science to neighborhood children. A graduate of the first Jordan High School senior class in 1915, he delivered a commencement address to the Jordan High School graduating class of 1993.
In 1973, Dr. Parmley and LaVern Parmley celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. LaVern passed away in 1980. Dr. Parmley is survived by Frances and Richard Muir of Encino, California; Richard and Teddy Lyn Parmley of Cupertino, California; William and Shanna Parmley of Alamo, California. In addition, he has 13 living grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 20 at 11 a.m. at the Hillside Stake Center at 1400 So. and 1900 East. The family will receive visitors from 6 - 8 p.m. on Friday, September 19 at The Larkin Sunset Lawn Mortuary, 2350 E. 1300 South and from 9:45 - 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, prior to the services.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Thomas J. Parmley Scholarship Fund for deserving students in physics, c/o Physics Department, University of Utah, 115 S. 1400 E., Room 201, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0830.
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