Thomas Glynn Priddy, a sixth generation Texan, went home to be with the Lord on August 19, 2020, after a long decline in health due to heart failure. He was 87 and had been residing in Alexandria, Virginia.
Tom was born in Ferris, Texas, to Thomas Washington and Mamie Lee (Cates) Priddy on August 14, 1933. He was the ninth of ten children. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, with posts in both England and Germany. He later attended Texas Tech University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and was a charter member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity on campus. Always passionate about education, Tom later earned a Master’s Degree from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, both in Mechanical Engineering.
During his time at Texas Tech, Tom met the love of his life, Helen Hoffman. They married on August 23, 1959, in O’Donnell, Texas, and they were blessed to have two children, Charles (Chuck) and Lori. They shared life together for 53 years until her death in 2013.
Tom worked for more than 35 years at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During that time, he provided engineering design and analysis for rockets and missiles, geothermal and solar energy technologies, and shale oil extraction. He also spent two years on a special assignment with the Department of Defense to identify strategies for safely decommissioning old ammunition and battleship shells. His team’s work on safety testing of nuclear-waste transport containers is still on display at the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago.
Throughout his career, Tom earned six patents and received a number of engineering honors. He was inducted into the Texas Tech University Academy of Mechanical Engineers and named a Fellow with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
After retiring from Sandia in 1998, Tom and Helen moved to the community of Lakeway, just west of Austin, Texas. Tom spent several years there working as a part-time professor at The University of Texas and taught Aerospace & Engineering Mechanics.
He also dedicated a significant amount of time in retirement to analyzing engineering solutions for stand-alone kitchen ranges that were frequently tipping over, severely burning hundreds of children. He provided expert testimony at trials related to these injuries and, ultimately, developed a circuit-breaker hinge that would prevent the problem. He received a patent for the invention and donated that technology to the appliance manufacturers.
Tom stayed very involved with organizations in the community of Lakeway. Besides being an active member of the Presbyterian church, he took on leadership roles with several local groups. He was a Board Member for the Lakeway Deer Committee, where he led innovative research on humanely reducing the population of deer in the neighborhood to reduce traffic accidents. He was also elected to serve on the Lakeway Municipal Utility District Board.
Tom moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 2014 and then to Alexandria, Virginia, in 2019, making many great friends along the way.
Besides his engineering expertise, Tom was also extremely creative. He was known for developing legendary treasure hunts at Easter for his children and grandchildren. In the back yard of his home in Albuquerque, he built an elaborate water structure with a fountain and a curved bridge. He even created a “warming room” in the winter for a wandering peacock that frequented their yard in Lakeway.
Any kids asking Tom “Guess what?” were greeted with the same funny response: “Turkey Truck!” He avoided rooting for sports teams that wore “yeller britches.” And inevitably, he always seemed to be at the grocery store when Santa Claus stopped by on Christmas Eve.
Tom was a Sunday School teacher and a devoted Christian. Throughout his life, he enjoyed playing bridge, dominoes and golf, as well as attending UT football games with his son. He was a wonderful boat captain for decades, and he patiently taught dozens of kids how to water ski. He never turned down a good Gin & Tonic or a chance to hit the dance floor with Helen (especially when the DJ was playing, “Scotch & Soda”).
Tom is survived by his son Charles Priddy (Susan) and daughter Lori Graham (Michael); his grandchildren Matthew Graham (Karinne Smolenyak), Morgan Priddy, and Zachary Graham (Crystal); his brother Bruce Priddy (Mary); many nephews and nieces; and his two constant companions, white cats named Biggun and Diesel.
The memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on August 28, 2020 (Friday), at First Presbyterian Church in Duncanville, Texas (543 E. Freeman Street). COVID protections will be in place, and the service will also be live-streamed at www.fpcd.org/live-stream. A short, informal burial service will be held at 11:30 AM on August 29, 2020 (Saturday), at the Tahoka Cemetery in Tahoka, Texas.