Obituary: Thomas P. Wangler Aug. 2, 1937 – Nov. 20, 2021

Thomas (Tom) Patrick Wangler was born August 2, 1937 in Bay City Michigan to Frank and Florence Wangler. He earned his B.S. degree in Physics, in 1958 from Michigan State University, followed by a Ph.D. in Physics in 1964 from the University of Wisconsin.

He started his professional research career in high energy physics at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois where he worked from 1966 to 1979. After joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1979, he devoted his entire career in the field of Accelerator Physics. Tom is internationally known and recognized for his pioneering work in and foundational contributions to the development of high brightness particle linear accelerators. He became a Laboratory fellow in 1993. He was an excellent teacher and gained world-wide reputation for the accelerator physics courses he taught at various national and international universities such as Harvard University and Beijing University on behalf of the US Particle Accelerator School. Apart from his voluminous number of publications, he is best known for his book titled “RF Linear Accelerators” (John-Wiley) that has become the standard text-book across the graduate schools around the world.    

Tom was an avid runner and enjoyed doing races.  He competed in the Boston Marathon in 2005 at the age of 68, and the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007 at the age of 70, as well as many other marathons, half-marathons and triathlons.  He was also an outdoorsman trekking the mountains of New Mexico and a polymath with interests in world history, religions of the world, science and natural history, constantly reading to learn more about topics that interested him. He taught himself how to sail in graduate school, by getting in a boat during a sailing race and just following the other boats.  He was known as a great traveling companion by co-workers because of his ability to find excellent restaurants in any city. He was also a sports fan cheering for his beloved Michigan State Spartans, as well as the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Bears and the Houston Astros.  

Tom loved his family and music. He was an exemplary father to his children. He lived for over 40 years in Los Alamos. He spent many an hour coaching soccer (a sport he never played and had to learn from books) and traveling with his wife and children. He enjoyed playing the banjo and singing for his grandchildren. He was an active member in the Catholic church and enjoyed singing in the choir for several years during his retirement.

Tom died on November 20th in his home with family due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was preceded in death by his parents and his nephew, Tom Wangler.  He is survived by his wife Julia of 46 years, his son Michael his daughter Annie Blank and her husband Andrew, 5 grandchildren Samuel and Claire Wangler and Marissa, Devin and Isaac Blank, his brother Frank and his wife Kim, his nephew Steve and Steve’s family, and nieces, Lynde and Jessica.  The family would like to thank Damian Tapia of Egis for his excellent and caring home health care. 

A funeral mass in celebration of his life will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on December 11 at 10 am.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Michigan State University, or a charity of your choice.