Weyland Thomas Joyner Jr.

Published 6:02 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

Weyland Thomas Joyner Jr. died on Nov. 10, in Durham, North Carolina.

Born to Weyland Thomas Joyner Sr. and Thelma Olive Neal Joyner on Aug. 9, 1929 in Suffolk, Tom grew up in the nearby town of Windsor, graduating from Windsor High School in 1947. His first jobs as a teen included working for his father’s oil distribution business and delivering groceries by bicycle. These deliveries sometimes included a live chicken; if luck was not in his favor, he was asked to dispatch of the bird upon delivery, leading to his lifelong aversion to eating poultry. At age 14, he received his pilot’s license – two years before his auto driver’s license.

He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hampden-Sydney College; on a three-year plan, he attended summer school at Longwood College and at Duke University, where he claimed he survived a Chaucer course by fawning over the instructor’s collection of African violets. He received his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Duke University in 1955. He married Windsor native Marianne Steele and they moved to Maryland, where he worked for the Department of Defense before returning to Virginia to serve on the physics faculty at Hampden-Sydney College from 1957 until his retirement in 2004. He taught all levels of physics ranging from introductory courses to quantum mechanics and designed a course on modern weaponry. He received the Hampden-Sydney Keating Medallion for exemplary service and dedication to the college; the Joyner Physics Award is awarded annually to an exceptional graduating H-S physics major.

During his career, Tom also engaged in research at various laboratories including Ames Laboratory in Iowa, Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee and NASA’s Lewis Research Center in Cleveland. A recipient of research grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Atomic Energy Commission, he served as director of the College Program of the American Institute of Physics and was on the staff of the Commission on College Physics. He also served as chairman of the physics committee of the Educational Testing Service and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He was a deacon and an elder at Hampden-Sydney College Church and taught high school physics at Prince Edward Academy. After retiring from Hampden-Sydney, he moved to Montross and volunteered at the local high school and with community organizations there.

His outside interests included his several farm-related businesses and raising beef cattle; in his later years he enjoyed trading stocks and bird watching. He did not allow his career or his life to be defined by a paralyzing spinal cord injury he suffered in 1972.

In 2010, he moved to Durham, North Carolina to be closer to family.

He is survived by his two daughters, Anne Joyner Sheehan (Tim) of Atlanta, Georgia and Leigh Joyner Wynkoop of Durham, North Carolina; one daughter-in-law, Alva Moore; his grandchildren, Weyland IV and McGregor Joyner, Mallory and Ted Sheehan, Andrew and Paul Wynkoop and his sister, Phyllis Anna Joyner of Norfolk. He was predeceased by his wife Marianne and his son, Weyland III.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Peak Resources-Brookshire, Morgan Sanford, Jill French and Jill Jankoski.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to College Church in Hampden-Sydney or to Hock Family Pavilion, a Duke Health hospice facility.

Condolences may be shared at CremationSocietyNC.com.