September 5, 1930 – November 6, 2019
Dr. John Thomas “Tom” Prud’homme, journeyed peacefully from this life to the next on November 6, 2019 in Austin, Texas, surrounded by his loving family.
Tom was born on September 5, 1930 in Hemphill, Texas, the third of five children born to Eck Gabriel and Mary Anderson Prud’homme. His mischievous, adventurous, and big-hearted spirit blossomed during his childhood in the piney woods of East Texas, where he raised his own prize bull calf named “Lep,” engaged his younger brothers in various, and somewhat questionable, work-for-brownie-point schemes, and pulled elaborate and creative pranks on his older siblings.
Tom graduated from Pineland High School in 1947. From there, he went on to Spring Hill College, graduating in 1951. He received his MA in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1953 and his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from UT in 1957.
Tom then joined with his graduate advisor and friend, Dr. Emmett Hudspeth, to found Texas Nuclear Corporation, one of Austin’s first tech start-ups. He eventually became the president of Texas Nuclear and continued in that role for many years. He left TN to become a Vice President at Baker-Hughes Corporation, and after retiring from Baker-Hughes, went on to participate in establishing two more local technology companies: Process Sciences Incorporated and Austin American Technology. Throughout his long and productive career, Tom never lost his love of science and never tired of trying to find ways to use science to make the world a better place.
Tom loved fishing and hunting, playing golf, racquetball, and tennis, and going on frequent cruises, trips, and tours with his wife, Shirley. He is a founding member of the EIEIO club, an informal gathering of local businessmen who met irregularly for purposes not entirely clear, even to themselves. But more than anything, he enjoyed creating mischief. He loved nothing better than putting his children up to doing things that would get them in trouble with their mother, and enthusiastically carried this hobby forward into the next generation with his grandchildren.
Tom had a unique ability to relate to everyone, to take delight in everyone exactly as they were, to find the best in everyone, and to acknowledge and celebrate what made people unique. He was not just the smartest person you ever met. He was also the sweetest, kindest, and most generous.
Early on in his time at TN, Tom met a young teacher who would become his wife and life-long soulmate. He married Shirley Ruth Bassett on February 24, 1962 at St. Francis Catholic Church in Austin, Texas.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Eck and Mary, his brother Eck Prud’homme, Jr., and his sister Eleanor Breen. He is survived by his wife Shirley, his brothers Joseph Gilbert Prud’homme and wife, Connie, and Joseph Lynn Prud’homme, his sister-in-law, Margaret Prud’homme, his children John T. Prud’homme, Jr. and wife, Kirsten, Patricia Alyce Wendlandt and husband, Clark, Rebecca Ruth McDowell and husband, David, Michael Eck Prud’homme, and Philip Walton Prud’homme, and wife, Michelle Stahl, his grandchildren, Caitlin, Rachel, and Jack Prud’homme, Emily Wersig and husband, Michael, Katie Rios and husband, Randy, Michael, Kyle, and Philip McDowell, Sam and Meredith Prud’homme, and Jordie Stahl.
The family would like to especially thank the staff and nurses at Brookdale Spicewood Springs for their many hours of loving and patient care.
Visitation will be Friday evening at 5:30, November 8, 2019 at Cook Walden Funeral Home, 6100 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78752 with a Rosary at 7:00 PM.
A funeral Mass will be held Saturday, November 9, 2019 at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, 4311 Small Drive, Austin, TX 78731.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Caritas of Austin, caritasofaustin.org.
- Gilbert Prud'homme, Active Pallbearer
- Joe Prud'homme, Active Pallbearer
- Visitation Friday, November 8, 2019
- Rosary Service Friday, November 8, 2019
- Funeral Mass Saturday, November 9, 2019
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November 12, 2019
I never met Dr. Prud'homme, though I was a colleague of Robert N. Little and Emmett Hudspeth who were involved with the founding of Texas Nuclear Corp with Tom. They spoke of those days warmly. I enjoyed the photos shown here of a man that knew success and valued family. I have created an entry for him on the History of the University of Texas Physics Department website that I created. The link is https://web2.ph.utexas.edu/utphysicshistory/JohnThomasPrudhomme.html I hope some in the family will contact me with corrections and additions. My sympathies to the family as they adjust to the loss of clearly a much loved man.
November 10, 2019
Doug and I are so sorry for your loss. Tom was one of a kind! He was the reason we moved to Texas! He has provided us with a lot of fond memories and very typical Tom stories. Whenever we get together with the TN folks the Tom stories come out! There are some awesome stories which make for happy smiles, belly laughs and awesome unforgettable memories. The world is a sadder place for sure. We pray for strength for all of the Prud'home's as you travel this new path in life, without Tom.
November 9, 2019
I just wanted to comment on the pictures chosen for the slide show. It’s so obvious that Mr. Prud’homme was all about family. What a lovely collection of pictures and such evidence of a lovely man.