BOUNTIFUL Of all the honors and accolades bestowed upon Philo T. Farnsworth, the one that escaped the famed Utah inventor was that of Eagle Scout.
"He fulfilled all the requirements," said Kay Godfrey with the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America. "But the paperwork was lost."
On Friday, the Boy Scouts rectified the oversight, awarding a posthumous Eagle Scout award to Farnsworth's widow, Elma "Pem" Farnsworth, during ceremonies at the Avalon Care Center in Bountiful.
"Oh my word, it's lovely," Pem, now 97, said of the framed badges and accompanying eagle sculpture. "Isn't that gorgeous?"
The ceremony corrected an oversight that resulted when Farnsworth, a teenager at the time, moved with his family from Idaho to Utah. The Eagle Scout paperwork remained behind in Idaho, and it was eventually lost.
"He was always disappointed he never received his Eagle Scout award," said Daniel Farnsworth, a great nephew of the man credited with inventing television, as well as things as diverse as baby incubators and electron microscopes.
A crowd of about 50 family members, nursing home residents and officials from the Boy Scouts of America were on hand to mark the occasion.
Although he never got to enjoy the award while alive, "He's looking down with appreciation," said Paul Moore with the national office of the Boy Scouts of America, who praised Farnsworth as a man "who demonstrated all the virtues of an Eagle Scout."
Farnsworth passed away in 1971 at the age of 64, leaving behind a legacy that was not fully appreciated at the time at least not outside of the world of inventors. Today, he is widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent inventors of the 20th century.
Born in Beaver, Farnsworth was a gifted thinker who began envisioning his inventions as a child on the family farm in Rigby, Idaho. At age 11, he worked on developing an electronic washing machine for his mother. At 14, while looking at long rows of crops, the concept of television transmissions was born.
That was the same year Farnsworth entered a national invention contest hoping to win a $25 prize. He won with something designed to prevent car thefts an emerging problem in 1921.
In 1927, at the age of 21, Farnsworth demonstrated "electronic television" for the first time in San Francisco. The first image ever transmitted by television was that of his wife, Pem.
At least five books have been written about Farnsworth, many of them chronicling his bitter battle with electronic giant RCA Victor for his early television patents. He did not prevail until a 1939 verdict required RCA to pay him $1 million for his patents the only time that RCA had ever paid a patent fee to an outside inventor.
The father of television was honored after his death with a Farnsworth stamp, induction into the Inventors Hall of Fame, recognition at the Emmy Awards and a statue in the U.S. Capitol, Utah's second contribution alongside Brigham Young.
But the Eagle Scout award was one lost to him in life and death.