SOLSTICE, VOLUME VIII, NUMBER 1; SUMMER, 1997.
TO THE MEMORY OF CLYDE TOMBAUGH, 1906-1997.
Department of Computer Science
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces NM 88003 USA
Clyde discovered the planet Pluto in 1930 at the age of 24. He also
established by means of his thorough exploration of the firmament that it
is extremely unlikely that any other solar planets exist.
New Mexico State University had gathered in one building all of the
Research Professors from various departments. These included Art Kruse,
Mathematician, and Walter Lwowski, Chemist together with astronomers Mr.
and Mrs. Herbert Reta Beebe and spouses, they constituted Clyde's lunch
group. Clyde presided in a very democratic way over this highly scholarly
group who all became comedians during lunch. The laughter was almost
non-stop with everyone making puns whenever possible, the ringleader being
Clyde himself. I was privileged to join this group when Walter brought me
to lunch one day as his guest. For the next decade we lunched together
every weekday. The louder the groans, the more a pun was enjoyed and
appreciated. I enjoyed these lunches so much that I stayed at New Mexico
State University in order to have lunch with the group each day.
Now I get to the point. We had many discussions about the possibility of
extra-terrestrial life. Clyde always expressed total certainty that among
the billions of stars in galaxies, super galaxies, and clusters, there
must be many stars that have planets. He further frequently expressed his
conviction that among all these planets that he was sure existed, there
must be very many that could support life of one kind or another. He was
also of the most confirmed opinion that some intelligent was included
Clyde founded the astronomy and the geology departments at NMSU. He was
most knowledgeable about geography. He was a great and humble man who
thoroughly deserved all of the acclaim he received.
One day I was complaining to the "lunch bunch" that I had received twenty
e-mail letters, six inches of mail in my university mail box, two letters
among them being mathematical papers to referee for publication. Clyde
blustered and proclaimed loudly, "do you think you get a lot of mail? I
get so much mail that it's downright astronomical!" Everyone laughed
heartily. This was one of the few times when Clyde made a wonderful play
on words and did not realize it.
I composed a poem for his 89th birthday and here it is. What a great guy
and we all miss him.
To our good friend Clyde Tombaugh
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(22 stanzas of 2 lines each, which rhyme but do not always scan)
On the Fourth of February 1906
A little bundle was sent who would do some great tricks
If it had been 1907
I'd say the bundle was sent from heaven
Clyde arrived into the Tombaugh family
But could not yet speak, so he did not deliver a homily
Nobody could know then that world-renowned he would become
And that to no evil temptation he would succumb
He likes to eat his bread with butter
He set the whole wide world a-flutter
When in 1930 the planet Pluto he discovered
This remarkable phenomenon was thus uncovered
By an almost infinite amount of hard work
From its arduous nature he did never shirk
Now we have the privilege and pleasure of lunching
With him, and hear his hilarious puns while munching
He often likes to eat baked fish
Which shows he has good taste in a dish
His mind is witty and so quick
He likes to spread his butter thick
He doesn't like to waste a thing
Uneaten bread homeward he will bring
He likes his coffee with some cream
When he makes a great pun he will beam
A great football analysis he can make
Showing up the coach's stupid mistake
He makes good jokes about a crow
And this list seems to grow and grow
He loves to make an outrageous pun
And give us all a lot of fun
When bad enough they make us groan
And that's the theme of this here poem
He always likes to grind his lens
To perfection with no amends
He built his own big telescope
And doesn't sit around and mope
His Patsy is his perfect wife
And with her he's enjoying life
When he was a lad of 88
We came here to celebrate
Now that he is 89
We're all glad we can say "he is a friend of mine"
So here's a great big toast to Clyde
From whom Pluto could not hide!!!!!!!!