Thomas Peyton Armstrong

Thomas Peyton Armstrong, 76, died peacefully at Bridgehaven Village on June 2, 2018 in Lawrence, KS.

Tom is survived by his wife, Jeanette Armstrong; children, Elizabeth Armstrong, Ann Arbor, MI and Stuart Armstrong (Amanda), Lawrence, KS; a sister, Jean Ober (John), Sunrise Beach, MO; grandchildren Jolie Armstrong, Ryan Armstrong, Chelsey Bowers, and Paige Bowers, all of Lawrence, KS, and Aaron Stryker, Ann Arbor, MI; and great-grandchild, Tanner Hall, Lawrence, KS. Tom is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, as both of Tom’s parents had eight siblings, from whom flowed more than forty cousins.

He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Paul Armstrong, Atchison, KS.

Tom was born on November, 24, 1941 in Atchison, Kansas to Floyd Armstrong and Mary Elizabeth Wohlgemuth Armstrong. He attended elementary school at a one room country school, Shannon Hill and graduated from Atchison High School in 1958. He received a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Kansas in 1962, and married Jeanette Fry shortly after graduation.

Tom received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa in 1964 and 1966, respectively. After postdoctoral appointments at the University of Iowa and Culham Lab in the United Kingdom, Tom joined the KU Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1968 and continued his teaching and research career until retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2003 to continue his research full time at Fundamental Technologies, LLC.

Tom had a prolific research career and garnered numerous awards. He focused on space physics, with heavy involvement in NASA unmanned space flight projects ranging from the Mariner Mars missions of the 1970s to the Saturn Cassini mission in 1998. He was an instrument Co-Investigator with the Voyager, Galileo, and Ulysses missions to the outer solar system, as well as an instrument Co-Investigator on the IMP 7/8 (Explorer 47/50), ACE, and Van Allen Probes series of Earth orbiting spacecraft. Voyager 1 made history as the first human-made object to leave the solar system.

Tom managed the Space Physics Laboratory at the University of Kansas for 20 years and supervised departmental computing for 15 years. He was a devoted advisor and mentor, furthering the careers of countless young scientists. These scientists work around the globe, contributing to knowledge and industry.

Although his scientific career occupied most of his energies, he was a man of many talents and interests. He served as President of the Lawrence Aquahawks Swim Team when his children were competing and helped coach his son’s football team. He enjoyed his involvement in the Big Blue Sportsman Club, the University of Kansas Discussion Club, and the Faculty of the 1960s Club. Growing up on a farm, he learned how to repair just about everything, and enjoyed woodworking and building, including a house.

A funeral is scheduled for Thursday, June 7, 2 p.m. at Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W 13th St, Lawrence, KS, with a reception to follow at Maceli’s Banquet Hall, 1031 New Hampshire St, Lawrence, KS. Reverend Larry Fry, nephew of the widow, will officiate the ceremony. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Tom’s life. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the KU Endowment, in support of the Physics and Astronomy Faculty, at, or by check to KU Endowment, in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary. Condolences can be sent to Jeanette Armstrong at Monterey Village, 3901 Peterson Road, Lawrence, KS 66049. The family would like to thank caregivers at both Monterey Village and Bridgehaven Village for their kindness and dedication.




9 Condolences

  1. Stamatios Krimigis on June 4, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    To Jeanette Armstrong, Elizabeth, Stuart, and grandchildren,
    My heartfelt sympathy to you for the loss of Tom, my dearest friend and life-long colleague and collaborator for the past 56 years, from Iowa to Johns Hopkins. We worked together to explore every planet in the solar system and beyond. I know that without his inspiration, help, and advice our experiments on the IMPs, Voyagers, Ulysses, Galileo and Cassini would not have been the outstanding successes that they were. Tom’s name is carried on a microfilm on Voyagers 1&2 beyond our solar system and into the galaxy. His memory will truly be eternal. With all my respect and love and affection, Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis.

  2. John Bevan on June 5, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Jeanette and Stuart, you have my deepest sympathies and condolences. Tom was a great man and shall be missed. If there is anything that you need, please feel free to reach out and let me know. I am glad to be here for you both.

    Best Wishes to you and the rest of the family,

    John Bevan

  3. Louis J. Lanzerotti on June 5, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Dear Jeanette, I was so saddened to learn of the loss of Tom. I send my deep sympathy to you and your family. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel many space mission routes with Tom, from Voyager days to Cassini. Our Ulysses team meetings from Lawrence and your gracious home hospitality, to Greece, and to many locales in between in Europe and the U.S. are memorable for his so many contributions to our successes. Tom was an outstanding space physicist, and an even more outstanding human being. I was priveledged to know and to work with him. Lou

  4. Jim Hesser on June 6, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    I send my deepest condolences to Tom’s family. The world has lost an exceptional scientist who did so much to strengthen the University of Kansas, my 1963 alma mater, through his passion for research in space physics and mentoring.

  5. Jerry and Julie Manweiler on June 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Jeanette, Stuart, Elizabeth and all of the family
    Tom was a second father to me and did so much to support me as a student and as a mentor and friend. The world has truly lost an important gift and a great man. I have always counted myself as truly blessed that Tom has been in my life. It was such an honor that he decided to join me in FTECS and the work that we have been able to accomplish over these 20+ years is all because of his care, support, and compassion. When Therese passed it was you and him that made it possible to move forward and start the next phase of my life with Julie.
    We are truly saddened by his passing.

    Jerry and Julie

  6. Shawn M. Stone on June 8, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Tom was an outstanding mentor. He taught me so much about computing and space science. I miss his sense of humor; he pulled my leg constantly. I have many memories of him and many include him jumping up and down and smiling at plots that came out of the printer. It was pure joy for science. I would not be where I am today without him. My thoughts are with you Jenette and family.

  7. Heather Zwiener on June 8, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Tom was a natural teacher with an incredibly sharp mind, an equally sharp – and funny – wit, and a generous spirit. He was my boss, my mentor, my friend. I’m grateful for all the wonderful memories I have of working with him and learning from him. I grieve with you and pray for your comfort, Jeanette, and for your children and entire family.

  8. Naser Alinejad on June 9, 2018 at 12:48 am

    Naser Alinejad:

    Professor Armestrong’s wife (Jeanette) and his familly, it was very sad to hear professor Armestrong death. He was great human and great scientist. He was my advisor and learned a lot from him. I have unforgetable memories from him. God bles him.

  9. Saeid Taherion on June 10, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Dear Jeanette, my deepest sympathy and sincere condolence go out to you and your family. I am honored and blessed to have known Tom. He was truly blessing in my life. Tom was instrumental in providing a strong foundation in my career. He was my teacher, my mentor, my boss, and above all my dear friend. Tom was a great man, very respected and excellent scientist. He was one of the most enjoyable colleagues that I have ever had the pleasure to engage in intense scientific discussion. How well I remember his sense of humor. I will truly miss him and carry him forever in my heart.

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