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 http://www.kuendowment.org/, 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.