Marvin Nelson Tolman, 82, passed peacefully from this world at home surrounded by loved ones on Wednesday, Nov 3, 2021 after years of struggling with dementia. He was born in Salt Lake City on March 3, 1939 to Olester and Urilla Tolman and spent most of his growing up years in Bancroft, Idaho. He married his sweetheart, Judy Harmon, on June 8th, 1963 in the Manti Temple; they enjoyed 58 beautiful years together. Most of his adult years were spent living in Spanish Fork while teaching at Brigham Young University (BYU).
Marv was admired and loved by many, and his influence was vast. He taught elementary school for 11 years and then spent the next 32 years as a professor of elementary science education at BYU. He trained thousands of elementary teachers throughout Utah how to integrate the love of science into the lives of their students. He received many awards including the 1998 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology (awarded by Governor Mike Leavitt), the Professional Achievement Award from Utah State University, the Lifelong Service and Outstanding Service awards from the Utah State Teacher’s Association. At the time of his retirement, BYU awarded him the first annual “Dr. Marvin N. Tolman Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Education” which is now given each year to a recipient who has demonstrated a lifetime of service based on Marv's example. In his last few years at BYU, he oversaw the student teachers in Washington D.C., Texas, Mexico, Fiji, and Tonga, and enjoyed fulfilling this role with his wife. He is the author of many articles in national and international magazines, a college textbook, and a series of children’s science activity books (in their second edition). His influence will continue impacting children for generations to come. He was known to many in Utah as the “father of elementary science education” (BYU News, Dec 13, 2006).
Marv was an extremely hard worker, and his skills and interests spanned a wide array of topics. His early days in Idaho were spent working on various farms and at his father’s grain mill. As a young father he spent a summer as a lumberjack. While at BYU he had a variety of side projects. He was the creator of the Sortset Flash Cards (a unique way for kids to memorize math facts). He did a lot of mechanical and autobody work through the years, including owning his own autobody shop.
As a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Marv had a deep love of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gave his life to service in the church and was exemplary in living a life of integrity. He served a mission in the New England states as a young man, held various callings, serving in 4 bishoprics and branch presidencies (including as bishop and branch president). In his later years, he was blessed to serve three senior missions with his wife (Cherry Hill, NJ 2007-9, Tallahassee, FL 2010-12, and Provo, UT 2013-15). He loved doing temple work and served as an ordinance worker for 4 years. During 2019 he did 859 endowments. In 2020, he did 200 endowments prior to the COVID shutdown. Many are blessed on both sides of the veil by this man.
Marvin was known as someone everyone could count on. He was trusted and revered. He was looked to for his good advice and wise counsel. He was an inspiration to many and will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife, Judy Tolman of Spanish Fork, and 4 children: Greg (Clayton) of Burlington, VT; Valorie (Todd) Mitchell of Spanish Fork, UT; Regina (Jason) Loveless of Wake Forest, NC, and Aaron (Angie) of Highland, UT; 14 grandchildren and 1 great-grandson. He was preceded in death by 2 sons: Todd Marvin Tolman and Randall Judson Tolman.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Nov. 13th at 11:00 am at the LDS church building on 600 North Main Street in Spanish Fork, Utah. A viewing will be held at the same location on Friday, Nov. 12th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm and on Saturday from 10:00 - 10:45 am, prior to the funeral services. The internment will be held at Manti City Cemetery, Manti, Utah. Services are provided by Wheeler Mortuary in Springville, Utah.
We are grateful for the tender care given by Katie, Brad, Jessica & Amanda at Canyon Home Care and Hospice. They brought a light into his home with their cheerfulness and support.