MABRY, Tom J.
Tom J. Mabry passed away November 29, 2015 in Austin. Tom was born June 6, 1932 in Northeast Texas near Commerce to Thomas Lee and Grace Creamer Mabry. He is survived by his wife Helga Johanna Humm Mabry; daughter Michele Mabry Cooley and her husband Tillman Webb Cooley III, their twin sons William Sumner and Thomas Mabry, of Pflugerville; son Patrick Thomas Mabry, of Luxemburg and Patrick's daughter Cassandra "Cassie" Carolina, of Munich, Germany; as well as his mother in law Elisabeth Humm, of Lichtenau, Germany.
After graduating from high school as valedictorian Tom attended East Texas State University and earned a B.S. and M.S. degree in Chemistry in 1953. He was then commissioned into the US Air Force where he served as a research chemist for two years. During this time he married his first wife Myra Butler of Commerce Texas.
Tom received a Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from Rice University in 1960 and received a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Zurich. While there, he solved the structure of the red pigment in such plants as the red beet, cacti and Bougainvillea, naming the new class of unique pigments "betalains". In 1962 he became head of a new "Plant Chemistry " program in the Department of Botany, The University of Texas at Austin.
In 1966 Tom organized the Phytochemical Society of North America, serving as its first president and was honored with a lifelong membership in 1996. Tom and Helga Humm Fischer were married April 3, 1971.
As Chairman of UT-Austin's Department of Botany from 1980-1986 Tom led the program when it reached the number one national ranking, and was responsible for establishing several important endowed faculty positions. In 1986, Tom's interest in biotechnology led to his appointment as a Jack C. Wrather Centennial Endowed Fellow at UT-Austin's IC2 Institute.
Tom received numerous professional awards both nationally and internationally. He received the UT-Austin Graduate School's Outstanding Doctoral Teaching Award in 1991 and retired as Professor Emeritus in 2006 after 42 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate students and supervising to completion more than 70 Ph.D. and M.S. students, whose research led to more than 700 publications including 15 books.
Tom will be deeply missed by family, friends and colleagues. Memorial services will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: The University of Texas at Austin for the "Professor Tom J. Mabry Endowed Excellence Fund in Phytochemistry and Plant Biology".
Published by Austin American-Statesman from Dec. 4 to Dec. 5, 2015.