We note here the passing last week of Elma G. “Pem” Farnsworth, the widow of Philo T. Farnsworth, in Bountiful, UT. Mrs. Farnsworth was 98 years old, and had been in declining health for some time. She took her final breaths about 3:AM the morning of April 27, 2006.
Anybody who has read any of the biographies of Philo Farnsworth will know that Pem was her husband’s most ardent supporter, that she shared his triumphs and stood by him through all of his darkest hours. She was present in San Francisco the night in 1927 when electronic television was first demonstrated, and was frequently referred to as the first woman ever to appear on a cathode-ray-tube receiver. Some of us just called her “The Mother of Television.”
For the past 35 years (since Phil’s death in 1971), Mrs. Farnsworth dedicated her self to preserving her husband’s legacy and keeping his name in its rightful place among the pantheon of great scientists and inventors of the 20th Century. She authored an auto/biography of her life with Philo Farnsworth, “Distant Vision,” which was published in 1990. She derived her greatest satisfaction from meeting school children and encouraging them to follow in her late husband’s footsteps.
Pem and Philo were married in the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City in 1970 in a sacred service that is intended to assure a couple’s reunion in the afterlife. We can all take some solace knowing they are united now for all eternity.
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Saturday, April 28, 2006
“MOTHER OF TELEVISION” ELMA G. ““PEM”” FARNSWORTH DIES
BOUNTIFUL, UTAH – Elma G. ““Pem”” Farnsworth, author of the book Distant Vision: Romance and Discovery on the Invisible Frontier (Pemberly-Kent Publishing) and wife of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television, has died. She was 98.
Born February 25, 1908 in Jensen, Utah, ““Pem””, as she was affectionately known, married Philo Taylor Farnsworth in 1926. She became part of her husband’s lab team, handling the technical drawings for his early experiments on his vision for television and was present in San Francisco on September 7, 1927, when electronic television was first demonstrated successfully.
“Pem” Farnsworth was the first person ever to appear on a cathode-ray-tube receiver via transmission from her husband’s lab and has been referred to as “The Mother of Television.”
After Philo’s death in 1971, and for the past 35 years “Pem” dedicated herself to preserving her husband’s legacy and keeping his name in its rightful place among the pantheon of great scientists and inventors of the 20th Century.
She penned her autobiography Distant Vision: Romance and Discovery on the Invisible Frontier and self-published the book in 1990.
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Mrs. Elma G. “Pem” Farnsworth dies
Through her efforts, Farnsworth was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame, represents the State of Utah in statuary hall in Washington, D.C., and is among a handful of inventors that grace U.S. postal stamps.
Her fondest wish was to live to see a film made of her husband’s life, as she felt it would encourage young people to believe in their dreams. ZPI Productions optioned her book Distant Vision in the 1980’s and the project is in development at a major studio. A play by Emmy award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin titled, “The Farnsworth Invention” will premiere at the La Jolla Theatre in February 2007.
Well into her 90’s Mrs. Farnsworth continued her cause and was successful in lobbying the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to consider creating an award in honor of her husband’s accomplishments. She took center stage to present the first “Philo T. Farnsworth” award for technical excellence in television at the 56th Annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in 2003.
Her son Russell “Skee” Farnsworth notes that his mother “was an amazing source of strength to all those around her.” “Every person she met grew stronger, every heart she touched grew warmer. She was God’s gift to all of us.” Adds her son Kent Farnsworth.
A devout Mormon, she derived her greatest satisfaction from meeting school children and encouraging them to follow in her late husband’s footsteps. She told them “if you believe you can do it, anything is possible.”
“Pem” is survived by her sister Lois, of Bountiful, Utah, her sons, Russell and Kent, from New York and Indiana respectively. She is also survived by her beloved grandchildren Vajra, Maya, Mark, Matt, Arjuna, Krishna, Jennifer, Camille, and several great grandchildren; Jessica, Jonathan, Joshua, Alex and Meagan. Her husband Philo, sister Rhae, brother Cliff and two sons Kenny and Philo III all predeceased her.
Funeral services are pending in Bountiful, Utah. For more information contact Georja Skinner, manager/publicist, 808-268-4341, [email protected], or visit www.farnovision.com or www.philotfarnsworth.com
Georja Skinner, 808-268-4341