Celebrating the life of Thomas Courtlandt VanVechten
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Obituary for Thomas Courtlandt VanVechten
Thomas Courtlandt Van Vechten, 52, of Warner, NH, passed away unexpectedly on February 19, 2018, as a result of complications after a fall. Known as Thomas to family but Tom to his friends, he was born in Bethesda, MD, on December 12, 1965, to Jane and Tom Van Vechten.
The family lived in Kingston, Ontario from 1970 to 1973, while his father was in graduate school, but the rest of his childhood was spent in Chevy Chase, MD, with summers on the shores of Lake Michigan. His first science career experience was his high school summer job at the National Bureau of Standards. Graduating from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1984, he completed his B.S. in Physics at the University of Illinois in 1988 and completed his Ph. D. in Experimental Physics at Cornell University in 1996. Pursuing a career as an experimental research physicist and materials scientist, he worked at Materials Innovation Inc, Pentron Laboratory Technologies, Seldon Technologies, UNH and Nanocomp Technologies. In addition to his lifelong interest in science, Thomas loved sailing, hiking, baking, photography, classical music, drawing, painting, and was an avid reader. Always generous with resources as well as his time, he supported a variety of organizations assisting persons in need and the environment. He was very active in work focused on the environment and national parks with the Wilderness Society and Friends of the Sandwich Range and Wild River, including advocacy focused on the New England Wilderness Act of 2006.
Thomas is survived by his sister Laura, brother-in-law Tom, aunts Laurie, Deb and Wendy, uncle Jim, cousins Erin, Emily, Bill, Christopher and Scott, as well as a host of friends in Maryland, New Hampshire and Vermont. He was preceded in death by his mother Jane in 2013, his father Tom in 2016, and his friend Delphie in 2017. Known for his brilliance, creativity, kindness and sense of humor, his loss leaves a hole in the hearts of his family and friends. Thomas will be deeply missed over the many decades ahead that he should have been able to share with his loved ones.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a memorial donation to the Wilderness Society or the Union of Concerned Scientists.
A memorial service is planned for March 17, 2018, at 1:00 PM at the NH Audubon’s McLane Center in Concord, NH.