Tom Jeffries

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Thomas V. "Tom" Jeffries

(Chemistry professor
from 1968 to 2004 at
Campbellsville University, Kentucky)

Thomas V Jeffries.jpg

Born May 27, 1940
Metcalfe County, Kentucky

Resident of Campbellsville,
Taylor County, 1968-2006

Died October 30, 2006 (aged 66)
Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Spouse Wanda Blaydes Jeffries

Camille Jeffries Holt
Alyssa L. Jeffries
Larissa Shelly Jeffries (deceased)

Religion Southern Baptist

Thomas V. Jeffries, known as Tom Jeffries (May 27, 1940 – October 30, 2006),[1] was a chemistry professor at the Southern Baptist-affiliated Campbellsville University (formerly Campbellsville College) in Campbellsville in Taylor County in central Kentucky. A member of the CU faculty from 1968 until 2004, Jeffries was also recognized for his wide range of interests, ranging from Corvettes to bonsai trees to Roman coins.[2]

A native of Edmonton in Metcalfe County in southern Kentucky, Jeffries was the son of Elmer Vincent Jeffries and the former Eugenia Cassidy. He graduated in 1958 from Metcalfe County High School. In 1962, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1967 and his Master of Arts in chemistry from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. In 1987, he procured the Doctor of Arts degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He also studied environmental biology at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, embryology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and physics at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.[2]

From 1962 to 1968, he taught chemistry and biology at Hiseville High School in rural Hiseville in Barren County in southern Kentucky. After his retirement from CU, he taught in the 2005-06 academic year at Marion County High School. Beginning in 1973 and extending until retirement from CU in 2004, Jeffries worked with Milton Rogers, a biology professor, who became his close friend over the years.[3] Rogers recalled Jeffries as "the smartest person I have ever known if the yardstick is breadth and depth of knowledge plus the ability to recall names, dates, events, and even jokes. His mental ability to learn, store and recall information continually amazed me. ... In his professional life, he had a breadth of knowledge that few could match. It ranged from geology and paleontology to chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics."[2] Rogers noted that Jeffries grew bonsai trees, was an avid gardener, crafted doll furniture, made guns and pistols, grew maple trees from all over the world in his yard, was an excellent chef and artist, and liked to travel to Europe and the western United States. In addition to Corvettes, he restored a 1928 Ford pick-up truck to the original specifications. Rogers said that Jeffries "was not satisfied until he had studied about the things he was collecting to the point of being an expert on the subject. ... Just in the area of Roman coins, he had more knowledge about the coins than individuals who wrote articles about the Roman era."[2]

CU art professor Tommy Clark, another Jeffries friend and associate recalled the chemist's interest in art. "He had art talent himself. We shared a similar interest in dinosaurs; he even made some in clay, as I do. Whenever I'm teaching ceramics and have a problem understanding some of the glaze chemicals, he was just a call away [and] helped me understand why certain chemical properties react the way they do."[2]

W. R. Davenport, the CU president from 1969 to 1988, recalled that Jeffries "had a special way with students, and left his mark on many of them. Two generations of my own family learned chemistry from him, and they have a deep respect for him both as professor and as mentor. My administrative relationship with Tom spanned almost two decades, and while we had occasional points of healthy difference, I had no more loyal supporter from among the faculty. He was devoted to his work, to his students, and to our mutual calling."[2]

Jeffries and his wife, the former Wanda Blaydes (born January 28, 1947), who graduated in 1969 from Campbellsville College, as the institution was then known, had three daughters. Camille Jeffries Holt and Alyssa L. Jeffries both graduated from CU.  Larissa Shelly Jeffries[2] who was stillborn on March 23, 1974, and is interred at Edmonton Cemetery.[1]

Jeffries died in 2006 of leukemia at Norton Hospital in Louisville. His wife filed a civil suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Bowling Green against Thermo Fisher Scientific et al. and several third-party defendants, the suppliers of benzene used in the CU chemistry laboratory. The suit alleged that Dr. Jeffries contracted acute myeloid leukemia and died as a result of his occupational exposure to benzene and benzene-containing products manufactured and sold by Thermo Fisher. The court ultimately ruled in 2009 that Mrs. Jeffries had exceeded the one-year statute of limitations on filing such liability claims, and the suit was dismissed. The court said the claim should have been filed no later than December 4, 2007.[4]

Jeffries is interred at Brookside Cemetery in Campbellsville.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dr. Thomas V. Jeffries. Retrieved on December 9, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Joan C. McKinney (October 31, 2006). Dr. Tom Jeffries, CU retired professor, dies at 66. Retrieved on December 9, 2017.
  3. Joan C. McKinney (June 15, 2009). Dr. Milton Rogers Honored by UK College of Education. Retrieved on December 9, 2017.
  4. Jeffries v. Scientific. (November 12, 2009). Retrieved on December 9, 2017.