Frank Harmon

February 23, 1939 ~ January 18, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old

Frank Harmon Obituary

Dr. J. Frank Harmon, proud father and grandfather, professor, and physicist, died Thursday, January 18, 2024, at his home in Pocatello, ID. His family announced his death.

Dr. Harmon was born in Van Wert, OH, on February 23, 1939, to parents Audrey H. Hunt and Tony W. Harmon. As a young child, his family moved to Portland, OR, to start the family business Harmon Electric. He warmly remembered spending days with his mother sharing their mutual love of books. It was in high school that he met the love of his life Judy Gamble. They were married on September 12, 1963, in Vancouver, WA. They raised their three children in Pocatello, ID, frequently enjoying river raft trips, backpacking expeditions, skiing, and early morning astronomy sessions viewing the wonders of the night sky. On any given day, he could be found in his laboratory tinkering with various experimental apparatuses, at home reading a book about an important historical figure or listening to jazz on his home-spun stereo system. He was a problem solver who always had his hands busy with a project, whether it be building go-karts with his sons, fixing the family car, or renovating the family home with help from his jovial colleagues.

Dr. Harmon was the author of over 100 scientific articles and a respected authority in particle physics and particle beam accelerators. He discovered his passion for electronics and physical sciences early in life, frequently performing experiments in his parents' basement. He formalized his education by obtaining a B.S. in Physics from Portland State University in 1963. He continued to study Physics at University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY, obtaining his M.S. in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1968, but not before heralding the arrival of two of their children. His next post brought the family to Salt Lake City, Utah where he was a postdoctoral fellow from 1968 to 1969 during which time their third child was born.

Beginning in the fall of 1969, Dr. Harmon became faculty in the Department of Physics at Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID. There he taught several generations of students who became acquainted with a dedicated and passionate teacher that could distill abstract ideas into understandable and observable phenomena. His lectures were punctuated with the same dry wit that made his friends and family chuckle. He served as departmental Chair between 1983-1997, as well as Acting Director of the Particle Beam Laboratory. He was a driving force in the formation of the Idaho Accelerator Center at Idaho State University in 1994, where he was its first Director. Dr. Harmon continued his work there well into his retirement from Idaho State University.
Dr. Harmon is survived by his wife Judy Harmon, by their son Dr. Frank Harmon, his wife Loree Bruckmann-Harmon, of Albany, CA, and their daughter Riley of San Francisco, CA, by their son Matthew Harmon, his wife Jennifer Dewhirst, of Los Angeles, CA, and by his brother Rick Harmon, and his wife Majel, of Scottsdale, AZ.. Their daughter Dr. Elizabeth Harmon passed away in 2009 in New York City, NY. He was preceded in death by his older siblings Rosemary Valentine and Bill Harmon.
Dr. Harmon passed away peacefully accompanied by his beloved wife and four much-loved cats. A memorial will be held to celebrate his life at a later date.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Cornelison Funeral Home, 431 N. 15th Ave., Pocatello. Condolences may be sent to the family online at

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