Richard "Dick" Minnix, 85, of Lexington died Nov. 28


Dr. Richard Bryant Minnix, 85, of Lexington, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, at the University of Virginia Hospital.

Richard “Dick” was born in Salem on June 20, 1933, to the late George William and Gertrude Pearl Crosswhite Minnix.

He was predeceased by his loving wife of 61 years, Marian Montague Chapman Minnix; and his three brothers, Roy William Minnix, Boyd Alonzo Minnix and Vernon Raymond Minnix.

Dick is survived by his sister, Shirley Minnix Baldwin of Nashville, Tenn.; his three children, Jeffrey Bryant Minnix and wife Linda of Suffolk, Wesley Todd Minnix and wife Melanie of Manassas, and Leslie Montague Minnix-Wolfe and husband Jeff of Herndon; four granddaughters, one grandson, and one great-grandson, Holly Ann Minnix McDonald and Caden Bryant Crow, daughter and grandson, and William Albert Nash Jr., son of Jeff and Linda Minnix; Katherine Irene Lippincott, daughter of Todd and Melanie Minnix; and Rachel Allison Wolfe and Hannah Michelle Wolfe, daughters of Leslie and Jeff Wolfe; eight nephews and two nieces, Roy Minnix Jr. and wife Anita of Long Beach Island, N.J., Daniel Minnix and wife Bettye of Surprise, Ariz., Michael Minnix and wife Wendy of Carlisle, Pa., Ronald Minnix and wife Becky of Pfafftown, N.C., Douglas Minnix and wife Rhonda of McCoy, Stephen Minnix and wife Carol of Roanoke, Mark Looney and wife Andrea of McLean, Brian Looney and wife Jeelna of Hermosa Beach, Calif., Sue Ann Lilly and husband Ashley of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Shirlynn Motilla and husband Rick of Harrisburg, Pa.

Upon graduation from Andrew Lewis High School in Salem in 1950, he attended Roanoke College as a day student and graduated with a B.S. degree in physics in 1954, which was followed by an M.S. degree in physics from the University of Virginia in 1957; and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in experimental physics from the University of North Carolina in 1965.

Dick and Marian were married in the summer of 1955 and moved to Charlottesville for him to continue his graduate work.  They moved to Lexington the next summer where Dick became an instructor in the Department of Physics at Virginia Military Institute. After three years, they moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., for Dick to complete his post graduate studies on a VMI Fellowship. 

They returned to Lexington and VMI where Dick spent the remainder of his teaching career, retiring after 40 years of service as a colonel and professor emeritus. He served as head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at VMI on two different occasions and as VMI’s first director of the Division of Science.  He was a recipient of both VMI’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Distinguished Service Award.

He was active in the Lexington community, serving for many years as the leader of Cub Scout Pack 29; as a volunteer and in various leadership positions over more than 25 years with the Rockbridge County Christmas Basket Program; and for more than 46 years with the Lexington Rotary Club.  Dick was also very active in his church where he served on numerous committees and boards; as an elder; and as a member, and later the clerk of the session at Lexington Presbyterian Church.

Dick’s tremendous generosity positively impacted the lives of numerous students and faculty at VMI as well as residents throughout the Rockbridge County community.  He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

Dick dedicated his entire teaching career, as well as many years after his retirement from VMI, to promoting science education to people of all ages, from elementary school to senior citizens, and ranging from students to teachers and instructors at all levels of the education system.  The programs he developed and presented were designed to stimulate interest in science and mathematics by showing applications in the world around us. He gained national attention for his physics demonstrations and coordination of summer courses held at VMI for more than 25 years, that were sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and in 1993, a course for Native American science teachers, sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

He was a guest lecturer at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted through 17 summers and presented demonstration courses for Canadian teachers at the Royal Military College in Ontario, and at the XXIV International Physics Olympiad for high school students held at the College of William and Mary in 1993.

He was an active member of the Virginia Academy of Science, one of many professional organizations to which he belonged, where he served as the treasurer, and in the Astronomy, Mathematics and Physics section of the Academy, he served as chairman and secretary. He also devoted time to judging papers and presentations for the Virginia Junior Academy of Science and participated in various workshops and short course programs at numerous colleges nationwide.

For his work in physics demonstrations, Dick and his colleague, D. Rae Carpenter Jr., were jointly awarded the George B. Pegram Award of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society for Outstanding Teaching; the Guy & Rebecca Forman Teaching Award of the Vanderbilt University Department of Physics and Astronomy; and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers.  Dick was also a co-author of “The Dick and Rae Physics Demo Notebook” containing over 650 physics demonstrations.  It has been sold on every continent except Antarctica.

The family will receive friends on Friday, Dec. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Harrison Funeral Home in Lexington.  Following a private burial, a memorial service will be held at Lexington Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m.  The family will greet friends and share more memories in Kendal Hall at Kendal of Lexington after the service.  The church is located at 120 N. Main St., Lexington, VA 24450.  Kendal Hall is located at 160 Kendal Drive, Lexington, VA 24450.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the VMI Foundation or the Lexington Presbyterian Church in memory of Dick.

Arrangements are by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory.




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