School 32

Thomas E. Bitterwolf

January 19, 1947 ~ January 30, 2019 (age 72)


Thomas E. Bitterwolf died suddenly at his office on the University of Idaho Campus on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. He was 72.

                Tom “Doc” Bitterwolf was born in New Orleans, LA on January 19, 1947 and it was certainly the experience of growing up in a fun loving city with caring and nurturing parents, Alvin J. and Naomi M. (Hendrix) Bitterwolf, that shaped his joie de vivre attitude toward life. Tom attended Centenary College in Shreveport, LA and it was there in the first couple of weeks he met Carrie at a freshman barn dance. That was the start of a 54 year romance that continues to this day.  Tom and Carrie were married the day before their college graduation and began a wild ride through life that can only be described as charmed.

                About the time Tom was completing graduate school he received an invitation he couldn’t refuse and elected to join the Navy. What seemed for a while to be a career crushing train wreck led to Tom teaching at Nuclear Power School and then the Naval Academy.  His military career included,

 United States Navy 1972-1995 (23 years)             

OCS, Newport, RI; Naval Nuclear Power School Instructor, USNTC Bainbridge, MD and

Orlando, FL; US Naval Academy Annapolis, MD Military and Civilian Professor of Chemistry; USN Reserve numerous locations; Retired rank: Commander.

 Tom created a one-man research program at the Academy that proved to be sufficiently visible and productive to land him in what has proven to be his dream job as a Professor at the University of Idaho. Over his 30+ years at Idaho Tom has had the honor of teaching thousands of the finest students in the Northwest. His office walls are covered with wedding and birth announcements, graduation photos and scores of pictures of his academic grandchildren.

                 Tom has had a good many professional, academic and service organization roles. The one he is most proud of is his participation in Boy Scouts where he has been able to mentor young men and train adult leaders to be thoughtful, caring leaders of boys.

Boy Scout Troop Leader (Troop 344, Moscow, ID); BSA: Wood Badge Trainer & Course Director,

Board of Directors Inland Northwest Council, National Court of Honor Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service to BSA

Rotary International (Paul Harris Fellow); past president Moscow Rotary Club

University of Idaho Alumni Silver and Gold Award

Numerous awards for outstanding teaching

University of Idaho College of Science Dyess Faculty Fellowship

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Chemical Society (over 50 years)

Royal Society of Chemistry

Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society

Phi Kappa Phi

Journal of Organometallic Chemistry Editor

Moscow Coop Board of Directors

Friendly Neighbors Senior Citizens

Mt. Moriah Quitman Masonic Lodge #59 (Slidell, LA 50 year member)

National Sojourners

Latah County Chapter American Association of Retired Persons (Board of Directors)

Idaho Repertory Theater Board of Advisors

Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity

Methodist Church

Over 100 refereed professional chemistry papers

                With Carrie as his constant companion and his two wonderful daughters and their kids plus scores of four legged children and even a pet dinosaur to give him joy, Tom lived life to the fullest. The curve ball of cancer at the end only served to spotlight just how rich and rewarding his life had been.

Survivors include

                Caroline (Carrie) Means Bitterwolf, Spouse, Moscow, ID

Heidi Elizabeth Bitterwolf, Daughter, Moscow, ID

                                Jessica Elizabeth Weller, Granddaughter, Moscow, ID

                                Joshua Ray Weller, Grandson, Moscow, ID

Katharine Naomi Bitterwolf Hyde (Darren Hyde), Daughter, Fort Mill, SC

                                Alexandra Naomi Bitterwolf Hyde, Granddaughter, Fort Mill, SC

                                Jasken (Jazz) David Bitterwolf Hyde, Grandson, Fort Mill, SC

Tom was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents.

                The family asks that memorials be sent to the University of Idaho Foundation for the Renaissance Fund to support the activities of the University Honors Program.

A party celebrating Tom’s life and helping to deplete the 1000+ bottles of wine in his cellar, working with the Chemistry Department to arrange for the celebration of life party Tom wanted in lieu of a funeral service. 

It will be held on Friday, February 8, from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Vandal Ballroom in the Pitman Center.  


To send flowers to Thomas' family, please visit our floral section.


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