In Memoriam: Ted Violett, professor emeritus of physics
May 13, 2010 -- Theodore "Ted" Dean Violett, professor emeritus of physics, passed away on May 2. He taught at Western for 50 years -- longer than any professor in the College's history.
Ted Violett (right), professor emeritus of physics, taught at Western for 50 years -- longer than any professor in the College's history.
Ted was born in Great Bend, Kan., on April 27, 1932, to James Henry and Emilie Dorothea (Schuttler) Violett. The family lived in Hoisington, Kan., sharing a house with his grandparents, Theodore and Marie Schuttler, who were German-Russian immigrants from Baku, Russia (now Azerbaijan).
Ted’s father worked for the railroad and was transferred to Kansas City, Mo., where his sister Dixie (Jack) Miller was born into the family. Ted attended schools in Kansas City, graduating from East High School in 1949. He attended the University of Kansas City before transferring to the University of Missouri - Columbia where he received his Bachelor of Science in Education in 1953 and his Master of Arts in 1954. He served in the U.S. Army 1954-56 and was stationed in Huntsville, Ala., where he was involved in scientific research.
His doctoral study for the Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Colorado - Boulder was completed in 1959 with a dissertation on “Solar Emission Lines in the Extreme Ultraviolet.” That fall he joined the Western State College physics faculty where he taught physics and astronomy for 50 years.
Ted was married to Joyce Cockell from 1953 until her death in 1983. They had three sons: James of Denver; Randall (Lisa) of Powell, Wyo.; and Keith (Daria) of Englewood. Randy and Lisa presented him with his three granddaughters: Nicole, Ashley and Sylvia. In 1985 he married Martha Watson, a colleague in the Music Department at Western State College.
Ted’s professional life centered on his teaching career at Western State College and he was very proud of his students and their accomplishments. A 2009 Homecoming reception honoring his emeritus status after 50 years of teaching welcomed many of his former students to campus for the celebration.
He was an active volunteer coach for middle-school and high-school students preparing for science competitions. His teaching activities in astronomy included presentations and articles for the general public, the Park Service and the local papers. Ted was a member of the board of the Gunnison Valley Observatory. He was recently a member of the Gunnison County Environmental Health Board and was on the RE1-J School Board in the early 1970s.
Ted and Martha loved to travel and were both especially happy when they were “slow traveling” — walking across states and countries and being a part of the landscape of the many places they visited. Their interest in trails close to home led to adopting a section of the Colorado Trail in the Cochetopa Hills.
Many people in the Gunnison-Crested Butte community know Ted from his many years of running the roads and trails in training and racing. His cross-country skiing adventures with Sven Wiik and their circle of friends began another life-long activity. He also enjoyed attending athletic events and supporting the Mountaineer Athletic Association.
Another interest was music, especially classical music, and he was an active concert-goer and supporter of music at Western State College and in the Gunnison, Crested Butte and Lake City communities, as well as the Colorado Symphony.
Ted passed peacefully at his Gunnison home on May 2. A service of remembrance and celebration will be held in Quigley Recital Hall on the Western State College campus on Friday, May 14, at 4 p.m., with a reception following in the Aspinall-Wilson Center.
Ted has admired and supported many charitable organizations who would welcome donations in his memory. Among them are the following: the Colorado Neurological Institute, www.thecni.org; the Colorado Trail Foundation, www.coloradotrail.org; the Crested Butte Music Festival Sally Miner Fund for Chamber Music, PO Box 2117, Crested Butte, CO 81224; Gunnison Valley Observatory Memorial Fund or Scholarship Fund, PO Box 1227, Gunnison, CO 81230; Hospice and Palliative Care of the Gunnison Valley, http://gunnisonhospice.org/donations-memorials/; and the Western State College Foundation NAES Science Fund, www.westernalum.org/efr/index.asp.