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Noel de Nevers


1932 - 2019 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Noel de Nevers Obituary
Noel de Nevers
1932 ~ 2019
Noel de Nevers died on January 4th, 2019 at the age of 86.
Born on May 21, 1932 in San Francisco to Czeslaw de Nevers and Florence Gorman de Nevers, he graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1950, Stanford University in 1954 (B.S.), and the University of Michigan in 1958 (Ph.D.) both in Chemical Engineering. From there he worked with Chevron Research, and then came to the University of Utah in 1963, continuing on the faculty of the Department of Chemical Engineering until 2002. Noel was a Fulbright student in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1954-55, and a Fulbright Scholar lecturing in Colombia, Uruguay, and Argentina.
Noel met Klancy Clark at Stanford and had the good luck to marry her. Their 63 year-long adventure included three children (Clark, Nanette, and Renée) and seven grandchildren along the way.
Noel's academic gift was textbook writing. Three of his chemical engineering textbooks are in print. A year as a visiting engineer at the Air Pollution Technical Office of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1972 launched his career in Air Pollution Control Engineering, which resulted in a textbook, technical articles, and twelve years on Utah's Air Pollution Control Board. Noel enjoyed the shortest tenure on record as chair, terminated when he offended legislators by advising them not to pass an environmental bill he considered foolish.
Noel also published a nonfiction work, "The Kolob Tragedy: The Lost Tale of a Canyoneering Calamity." He has three "de Nevers's laws" in a Murphy's law compilation (of which the best is de Nevers's complexity law, "The only simple subjects are the ones you don't know much about"). He won the title Poet Laureate of Jell-O Salad at the 1983 Last Annual Jell-O Salad Festival in Salt Lake City with three limericks and a quatrain.
He loved outdoor recreation and visited Utah's National parks and other wild areas often. On one such trip he and his companions discovered Private Arch in Arches National Park. He was almost certainly not the first person to see the arch, but he was the first to report it officially to the rangers and the U.S. Geologic Survey. If permitted, he would have named the arch for the Wasatch Mountain Club, as his discovery occurred on a Club outing. He climbed non-technical mountains, standing on top of the Grand Teton, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Whitney, Kilimanjaro, and Kala Patar, and rafted most of the famous rivers in the intermountain west. His environmental activism caused the Dean of the University of Utah Business School to call him "a short-pants posy plucker," which title he accepted with pride. He played tennis with more enthusiasm than natural talent, and lived long enough to ski for free at Alta.
Noel loved to travel and was gratified to have a wife who would accompany him to Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and South America.
He was a political junkie, and served as his voting district's delegate to Democratic Party conventions for a few years. His letters to the editor of the Salt Lake tribune had a small but devoted following; he tried to help the readers smile at the follies of our elected leaders.
Noel considered limericks the highest form of poetry, and could recite all the classics. Of his own compositions, probably the best is "Noel's advice is quite right, drink enough to keep your pee white. But drink before noon, it will come out quite soon, and you'll not leave your tent in the night!"
Noel was always his mother's devoted and frugal son. He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held later in the year. If you wish, send a contribution in his name to Planned Parenthood or the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Jan. 9 to Jan. 20, 2019
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