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Thomas Nimlos

Thomas Nimlos

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
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Thomas John Nimlos, 89, of Missoula, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, at the Village Healthcare Center, of natural causes.
Tom was born on October 31, 1929, in Milwaukee, WI, to Johnson and Blanch Nimlos. Tom grew up in the Milwaukee area and after serving in the U.S. Army in the Korean War, he attended the University of Wisconsin earning a BS and MS in Soil Science and a PhD in Soils and Chemistry. It was at UW that Tom met the love of his life, Carlene Sauer. Tom was fascinated by Carlene’s father’s dairy farm and loved to spend time there. The two were married on Dec. 18, 1954, while still students, and later became parents to three sons.
After graduation, the family moved to Ogden, UT, where Tom worked for the U.S. Forest Service for a short period. But in 1961, Tom’s true calling came when he was offered a position at the University of Montana Forestry School as the Soils professor. Tom was beloved by his students who thought fondly of him as “Dr. Dirt” and he was famous for his old black bicycle with his name painted on the fender that he rode to school every day. He had a special place in his heart for his graduate students and tried to help them by giving them wild meat and his homemade wine. He taught in the Forestry School until his retirement in 1993.
Tom and family lived across the street from Bonner Park, and Tom became Dad for many of the “Bonner Boys”. He loved taking his sons and their friends out to the woods to go camping, fishing and hunting or just to build a camp fire and learn about nature.
Tom traveled extensively during his lifetime as he loved meeting people from different cultures and learning about their world. In 1971, the whole family signed up as Peace Corps volunteers and spent two years in Columbia and Chile where Tom worked with farmers to help them improve soil conditions. Tom later did educational work at the University of Mexico and University of Guadalajara. In 1991, Tom was named a Faculty Fulbright Scholar for his work in Mexico.
After retirement, Tom and Carlene traveled extensively including trips to India, Turkey, China, Egypt, Germany and the Netherlands. They also took their sons and families on several vacations to Mexico, Hawaii and Belize. Tom and Carlene spent winters in Tucson, AZ, and belonged to an RV group from Missoula that took many trips together during the summer.
Tom read extensively, especially about WWII, was an avid bird watcher and enjoyed hunting with his sons, genealogy research, gardening and hiking. He loved spending time with his grandchildren, especially at the cherished family cabin at Big Sky Lake. He truly played with his grandchildren at whatever game they chose, whether it was beating the bad guys out of the bushes in the “magical forest”, letting them paint his toenails, or taking a bike ride to Dairy Queen.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, sister Naomi, and brother John. Survivors include his wife, Carlene, Missoula; sons Peter, Missoula, Mark (Sheila), Golden, CO, and Michael (Tracey), Missoula; grandchildren Claire, Danika, Jake (Kari) and Nicole; and great-grandchildren Kaitlyn, Giselle, and his namesake Thomas.
A Celebration of Life will be held on July 14, 2019, at 11 am at Lubrecht Experimental Forest. Memories of Tom may be posted at www.gardencityfh.com. The family is requesting donations in lieu of flowers be made to the University of Montana Foundation in memory of Tom Nimlos or the Missoula Food Bank. In addition, the family would like to thank the staff at Village Healthcare for the caring and support they gave to Tom during his last year of life.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Sunday, July 14th, 2019 | 11:00am
    Sunday, July 14th, 2019 11:00am
    Lubrecht Forest
    38689 Hwy 200 East
    GREENOUGH, MT 59823
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Pam Hackley

Posted at 06:19pm
I too am one of those students of Tom's (turned Soil Scientist) and echo the tributes shared by Britt (who I don't know) and Barry (who I do know). Tom was my mentor - as he was to many others. One of his outstanding, strong suits as a teacher was his ability to be a good listener and sounding board - always available and enthusiastic to discuss through, without any topic. Not only was he a great advisor but he supported me through a tough period during my grad time at UM that I am I eternally grateful for. We always thought him ageless and one of those humans who would live forever. Well, I know he will -- as each of us remembers him - for me the tilt of his ball cap, a scratch of the back of his head, a twinkle in the eye ...and the proverbial question to put you on the spot -- "What do you think, Hackley?!" Certainly a life to celebrate and honor. My deepest condolences go out to Carlene and family. Love & Light ~~ Pam Hackley

Britt Barrineau

Posted at 01:49am
I was another of Tom’s students, not a soil scientist, more of a botanist and forest ecologist. I will always remember his enthusiasm and his genuine rapport with, and encouragement of, the people who took his classes. I also remember him sharing the bounty of his large garden, and being helpful in many other ways. He was the only teacher I reached out to after college. His was a life well lived and it was a privilege to have known him. Thanks, Tom!
— Britt Barrineau

Heartfelt Sympathies

Posted at 02:00pm
I was one of thousands of students who learned about the wonders of soil through the enthusiasm and high energy of Dr. Tom Nimlos. Yes, like many soil scientists get labeled, we called him Dr. Dirt. Toms teachings were a foundation stone of many careers. Some of us actually became soil scientists but many more became foresters, range managers, wildlife biologists, wetland scientists, hydrologists and more. All of us discovered that soil is related to everything we do on earth. Toms knowledge became better forests, better developments, better crops, reclaimed landscapes and better communities. Thankyou Tom, I owe you for much of my career and some of the wildest memories of college life (you know what I’m talking about). Barry Dutton, Soil Scientist Thanks for your help.

Heartfelt Sympathies

Posted at 01:59pm
To the Nimios family and friends please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your loved one Thomas. Very soon Jesus Christ will resurrect the loved ones we have lost in death back to life Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29, right here on a brand new Paradise Earth no more sickness pain or death life without end Revelation 21:1-5 jw.org.

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