Tom Platt, MS 1996

tom platt with wife and son

Remembering EVST alum Tom Platt

In the fall of 2018, the EVST program lost an amazing alumnus, Tom Platt. For those of you who may have missed this sad news, below is excerpt from his obituary. Tom’s memorial resembled an EVST reunion with alumni gathering from far and near.

Thomas Morton Platt was born August 3, 1960, in Springfield, Illinois, and died at his home in Missoula, Oct. 3, 2018. Tom grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1986. After college, Tom spent several years “bumming around.” Among other places, his travels took him to Hawaii, Australia, and Alaska where he met his life-long friends Andy and Tracy. Tom returned to graduate school to become a more effective defender of the wild places that he so loved. He earned a Master of Science in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana in 1996 and then embarked on many adventurous and eclectic jobs, including a stint with Greenpeace defending the Arctic from drilling and as a musk ox farmer in Alaska.

Eventually, he was drawn back to Missoula, and in 2002, married Jennifer Ferenstein at her family’s farm on the John Day River in Twickenham, Oregon. Although Tom and Jennifer settled in Missoula, Twickenham became one of Tom’s favorite places on earth, and they spent many happy vacations there, especially after their son, Emmett, was born in 2006. (Tom said he planned to marry Jennifer even before he knew her family lived on one of the prime steelhead rivers in Oregon.)

A most loving father and husband, Tom’s world revolved around Jennifer and Emmett, but his enthusiasm for life, generous nature, and irreverent sense of humor drew many friends into their family’s orbit. He was famous for his carefully planned skiing, hunting, fishing, rafting, camping and backpacking trips. Yet he also had a quiet, introspective side. He loved to read, and he and Jennifer taught Emmett to appreciate friends, the outdoors, and a good book in equal measure.

Over five years ago, in partnership with the city of Missoula, Tom started the Poplar Project. One of his proudest accomplishments, which embodied his solution-oriented approach to life, he worked with local people, cut through red-tape, designed an irrigation system, and adapted to the challenges of being a farmer—broken equipment, inclement weather and the wily coyotes that chewed through the drip lines every summer. With the help of a small crew, he planted over 70,000 poplar trees on the Clouse family farm along the Clark Fork River. The fast-growing trees use millions of gallons of municipal wastewater that otherwise would directly enter the river. Tom’s vision, now a reality, helps fish, wildlife and downstream users alike.

Diagnosed at the end of May with a rare, deadly cancer, Tom had just four months to put his affairs in order and say goodbye to his family and friends.