Gilmer Jr., Thomas Edward

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Dr. Thomas Edward Gilmer, Jr., of Blacksburg, Virginia, went to be with his Lord and Savior on July 22, 2014. He was born in Draper, Virginia on March 4, 1925 to Dr. Thomas Edward Gilmer Sr. and Betty Winston Gilmer. His childhood was spent in Hampden-Sydney.

He joined the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech, graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1948, and earned a PhD in Physics at the University of North Carolina. He served his country valiantly in the Army, deployed in the European theater during World War II. Tom was employed at the Kentucky Military Institute and at Experiment, Inc. of Richmond, Va. He returned to Virginia Tech as a professor of Physics, served as Dean of the College of the Arts & Sciences, and became the head of the Physics Department until his retirement in 1989.

He met his wife Nelzena “Noxie” Sullivan, an elementary school teacher in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They were married at Chapel Hill Baptist Church on April 20, 1951. Tom was always a devoted Christian, belonging first to Blacksburg Presbyterian Church and then Northside Presbyterian Church, where he served as deacon and elder. Tom was a longstanding member of the Blacksburg Lions Club, serving recently as its president.

He leaves behind, to cherish his memory his wife of 63 years; his children, Tom Gilmer III of Blacksburg, Dr. John Gilmer and wife Karen of Kingsport, Tennessee, Debbie Tobert and her husband Dr. Greg Tobert of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Meg Weddle and her husband Garrett Weddle of Draper, Virginia, and Robert Gilmer of Blacksburg. He is also survived by his brother-in-law Dr. Joseph Sullivan and wife Carla of San Antonio, Texas; sister Betsie Coyner of Williamsburg, Virginia; brother Dr. George Gilmer of Boulder, Colorado and wife Wilhelmina; and grandchildren: Kevin, Joel (Sarah), Paul, and Julie Gilmer, Samuel and Meg Tobert and Joe Weddle in addition to treasured nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his sister Pinny Brandon; brother Bill Gilmer; and brother-in-law Dr. Boyd Coyner.

Special thanks is given to Kenneth and all of Tom’s caregivers. Tom’s hobbies were gardening, birding, photography, hiking, and sailing. After his retirement in 1989, he and his wife traveled the world. For many years, they wintered in the delightful south Florida town of LaBelle, where they made many friends.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to The Physics Department at Virginia Tech (The Thomas E Gilmer Fund for Excellence) or Northside Presbyterian Church.

The family will receive friends Friday, July 25, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Northside Presbyterian Church, 1017 Progress St., NW, Blacksburg, VA 24060. Funeral service will be conducted on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, 701 Church St., Blacksburg. Graveside service immediately following at Drapers Valley Presbyterian Church, 2755 Old Baltimore Road and reception at the home of Garrett and Meg Weddle.

Arrangements by McCoy Funeral Home, Blacksburg.