Wilkerson,  Tom

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Tom Wilkerson 02/18/1932 - 04/03/2021 On April 3, 2021, Thomas Delaney Wilkerson, 89, died at his home in Altadena, California, in the loving care of his wife of 23 years, Mary Gilbert Palmer, assisted by Mission Hospice of Pasadena. Born on February 18, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan, Tom was educated in the public schools of Detroit where his father worked as a VP for General Motors . From a very young age Tom and his father did experiments together in their garage. He also loved to sketch and draw as he developed his lifelong curiosity about the world. Tom moved on to Ann Arbor where he earned three degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Michigan. He then joined Professor Lyman Spitzer at Princeton University's Plasma Physics Laboratory. In 1961 the University of Maryland, College Park invited Tom to join their Institute for Physical Science and Technology, where his academic career spanned 34 years. Following his Maryland retirement Tom moved to Logan, Utah, as Research Professor in the Department of Physics and the Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences at Utah State University. Later he served as Senior Scientist at the Space Dynamics Laboratory there. Tom continued to mentor students, contribute to scientific publications, and present at LIDAR conferences, all the while enjoying ongoing correspondence with many of his former students and colleagues. For the remainder of his life Tom puzzled over the workings of the universe and continued his commitment to LIDAR technology. Tom received the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology, in recognition of his distinguished service to the State of Utah. In Greece 2012, the International Laser Radar Conference, honored Tom for his "long term and outstanding contribution to the field of LIDAR," studying the application of lasers to atmospheric research, and his particular interest in temperature inversions and the ozone layer. Other professional associations and appointments include: founding Vice President and consultant to Versar, Inc; Stanford University; NASA-Ames Research Center; Dugway Proving Ground; Max Planck Insitut fur Meteorologie, Hamburg; Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Island. In addition to his wife Mary, Tom is survived by his three children: Jim (Heidi) and Mark (Donna) Wilkerson and Louise Speth (Mike), along with 4 grandchildren: Nicholas, Amy, Adrian, and Katherine, stepdaughter Alice Ewing, Mark, Donald, Anthony Palmer, and his nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Daniel C. and Edith Louise Wilkerson, his brothers Daniel C. Wilkerson Jr. and William (Bill) Wilkerson, and a nephew David Wilkerson. A true scientist and professor until the end of his life, Tom had his body donated to medical research hoping future physicians and medical professionals might learn from the multiple ailments which challenged the final years of his life. A private service will be held on April 18, 2021, in the chapel at MonteCedro, a senior living community in Altadena, California. Tom always viewed life as a party which he never wanted to leave. His family hopes for a joyous gathering on the East Coast to celebrate Tom's life, once folks are able to travel again safely. For Tom the end of world hunger remained an enduring passion. In lieu of flowers kindly make donations in Tom's memory, to community food banks.

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