In Alumni News, School of Communications

Longtime faculty and pioneer in BYU broadcasting Norman Tarbox passed away in June

Courtesy of

On June 11, emeritus faculty member Norman Tarbox passed away due to age-related causes. Tarbox was born in Massachusetts but he grew up in Utah. During his life, Norman Tarbox was a radio operator in The United States Navy, a singer with big dreams, and a television worker in several cities before he joined the faculty at Brigham Young University in 1960 where he taught in the Speech/Theater and Communications Departments.

“Dr. Tarbox mentored me in how to be a college professor in three important ways: (a) tender care for students you teach, (b) respect for graduate research which builds a university’s reputations; and (c) the art and science of departmental politics,” said Bill Silcock, assistant dean of the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University and one of Tarbox’s colleagues and friends.

During his 33 years at BYU, Tarbox helped hundreds of students, many of whom became lifelong friends. 

“Norm was my trusted mentor and dear friend. He kept in touch with me long after my days as a student, cheering me on at KSL and then at ABC News and CBS News,” said Jane Clayson Johnson, a well known TV news anchor as well as student and friend to Tarbox. “The night before I began anchoring the network morning program at CBS in New York City, I got a bouquet of good luck flowers from Norm Tarbox.”

Tarbox helped countless students achieve their dreams. He didn’t give up on his students, and his efforts to stay in touch had a long lasting impact on those he taught and served.

“He is responsible for the careers of hundreds of broadcasters,” said Dale Cressman, another one of Tarbox’s students who carries on Tarbox’s legacy as a professor in the School of Communications. “He kept track of you once you graduated. He was a real mixture of a loving guy who kept high standards.”

Tarbox was a co-founder of both KBYU-TV and BYU Broadcasting, and he worked with Thomas Griffith to create a student-produced television newscast. He was involved in current events while holding to his faith.

“His diverse opinion on current issues in society allowed students to prepare well for the career world away from the shelter of the BYU campus but never a heartbeat away from the truth of the restored gospel,” said Silcock.

In 1990 Tarbox was presented with the KBYU-TV ‘Pioneer Broadcasting Award.’ In 2000, he was also honored with the KBYU-TV Broadcast ‘Visionary Award’ and in 2009, he received the KBYU-TV ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’

Courtesy of Bill Silcock

Tarbox retired in 1993 after teaching in the Speech/Theater and Communications department for 33 years. However, Tarbox continued his legacy of devotion to communications even after retiring from BYU.

“We both retired in the mid-1990s, but since about 2005, we have been members of the Ex-Communications Association, which is a monthly luncheon group of retired faculty members from the department,” said emeritus faculty member Dallas Burnett. “For the last 15 years he has driven to Provo on the third Wednesday at noon for the Ex-Comms luncheon. He was probably the most loyal of any in the group.”

After retiring from BYU as a Professor Emeritus of Communications, Tarbox served a full-time family history mission for the church with his wife Pat and their daughter Diane. 

“Norm Tarbox was one of a kind,” said Clayson Johnson. “A man of integrity, talent and goodness. What a blessing it was to be his student and friend.”

To read his full obituary, please visit

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