Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Tom Passell's memorial

Tom Passell
Nov. 24, 1929-April 21, 2024
Los Altos, California

Thomas Oliver Passell was born in Chicago in 1929 and passed away peacefully at his Los Altos home on April 21, 2024, at an age of 94.37 years. He was raised in Colby, Kansas and served in the Indiana National Guard.

He was married to Agatha Pearl Brown Passell for 46 years from 1952 until her passing in 1998. Tom is survived by their children, Christine Green, Mark Passell, Cynthia Lopez, Julia Demeter, Andrew Passell, and Matt Passell, nine grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.

Tom was married to Joan Brennan until her passing in 2021, and is survived by her children, Suzanne Brennan Nathan, Steven Brennan, Clay Brennan, Elizabeth Brennan, and Catherine Brennan, 12 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Tom received a BS in chemistry from Oklahoma A&M and a PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. He was a research chemist for Phillips Petroleum Co. and Lockheed Missiles and Space, a senior physicist for SRI International and Physics International, and a project manager for the Electric Power Research Institute.

Tom was an active community member in Palo Alto, participating in local politics and serving on Citizens Advisory Committees on underground utilities and cable television. He served on the board of directors of Cable Communications Cooperative in Palo Alto from 1982 to 2001, and in 1968 he founded the Palo Alto Civic League. He was a long time active member of the First Congregational Church.

He had numerous hobbies, including table tennis, music, photography, public speaking on energy and scientific issues, and travel. He traveled to all seven continents, over 100 countries, and 49 states.

He was an active member of the scientific community, including the American Chemistry Society, the American Physics Society, the American Nuclear Society and the American Institute of Chemists.

He started his love affair with brass instruments in the fourth grade when he took up tuba. He also played trombone and trumpet in numerous bands, including the Wichita University Concert and Marching Bands, The Idaho Falls Symphony, The SRI Institooters, and the Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band.

Tom was a kind man who will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

Those interested in attending the Celebration of Life should contact his son at

Tags: public service

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