Monday, February 12, 2024

Thomas Henry Row, R.I.P.

Tom Row was introduced to me by my friend and mentor Dr. Wilfrid Good, one of the scientists on the Manhattan Project.   Guided by Dr. Good, Mr. Row showed me the Oak Ridge National Laboratory radioactive waste in 1981, when I was Appalachian Observer Editor.  Mr. Row was both candid and kind. He helped me learn and share the truth about Oak Ridge radioactive waste, which was part of my July 11, 1983 testimony before then-Reps. Al Gore, Jr. and Marilyn Lloyd at their Oak Ridge mercury pollution investigative hearing.   From The Oak Ridger:

Obituaries in Oak Ridge, TN | The Oak Ridger

Thomas Henry Row, age 87, went to be with his Savior, Jesus Christ, on April 14, 2022. Tom was born in Blacksburg, Virginia, February 9, 1935, to Dr. Stuart Blake Row & Ruth Marie Turner Row. His dad received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State, his mother, a BS in Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. His grandfather was a chicken farmer and a building contractor. Tom’s first car was a 1956 Buick Special. Some of his fondest memories as a child were riding the steam trains from their home in Ohio to Roanoke, Virginia, where he was greeted every time by his grandfather, model train in hand. This led Tom to a life-long passion for trains and excursions with his kids and family. 

Tom received a B.S. in Physics from Roanoke College in 1957 and a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1959. Following graduation, he joined the staff of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in July 1959. He managed a number of major research and operational programs at the lab and served as a Division Director and Senior Staff to Laboratory Director. He received numerous awards during his career including the Martin Marietta Jefferson Cup Award for Management Achievement. After 40 years at ORNL he retired in September 1999. 

Tom embodied James 2:26, “Faith apart from works is dead.” He served on no less than 30 civic boards, mostly as a chairman, ranging from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Committee and the American Nuclear Society, to four community colleges, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, American Museum of Science and Energy, University of Tennessee Arboretum, and was a faithful laborer for Christ at First Christian Church Oak Ridge as a Board Chair, Moderator, Deacon, Elder, choir member, Sunday School teacher, and many more capacities. All in a tireless commitment to seek the welfare of those around him and his community, even impacting communities as far away as Obninsk, Russia, Oak Ridge’s Sister City. Tom loved to make others great, be it his family, co-workers, friends, or someone he just met. He thrived in volunteer work, as a Master Gardener he loved landscaping, and also enjoyed birding, photography, and steam trains. He was gifted 87 wonderful years of life by his Creator and now has eternal life ahead of him! 

Tom is survived by his wife, Pat, of 31 years. Combined, Tom and Pat have seven children, Stuart Row, Deborah Row Stapleton, Chris Row, Robert Row, Jill Viles Johnson, Joel Viles Self, and April Viles Pack, along with their spouses. They have nineteen grandchildren (one deceased) and five great grandchildren with two more expected this year. Tom also enjoyed his many cats that loved to curl up on his lap while he read the newspaper. 

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Thomas H. Row you may do so for one or more of the following: Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties (ADFAC), Roane State Foundation, First Christian Church Oak Ridge, SeeJesus - Global Discipling Mission, or a charity of your choice. 

The family will receive friends 12-2 pm Monday, April 18, 2022, at First Christian Church. Funeral services will be held at 2 pm. Family and friends will then proceed to Oak Ridge Memorial Park for interment at 3 pm. Online condolences may be left at

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