In Memoriam: Alden Newton "Al" Tschaeche, CHP


by Ron Kathren, CHP, and Jack Selby, CHP

We are saddened to report the passing of our friend, brother health physicist, and colorful colleague Alden Newton "Al" Tschaeche. Al was born in Detroit on 7 June 1929 and passed away peacefully at his home in Encinitas, California, on 24 April 2012. He began his higher education at highly regarded private liberal arts Kenyon College, notable as the oldest private college in Ohio and considered one of the "New Ivies." He later transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. After a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, he began a career in health physics that lasted more than a half century and was marked by numerous and important contributions to the profession, particularly in the area of radiation protection standards.

Al was interested in all aspects of health physics and achieved considerable renown for his practical expertise in dosimetry and instrumentation. He was particularly and deeply passionate not only about standards, but also radiation hormesis, in which he strongly believed and which he zealously promoted; nuclear power, which he strongly supported; and the Health Physics Society (HPS), which he enthusiastically encouraged many to join. His contributions to the development of practical and useful radiation protection standards are particularly noteworthy and an important and beneficial legacy worldwide. In addition to indefatigable and dedicated service as a member and later as the chair of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) N13 (Radiation Protection) for many years, Al made important contributions to other national and international radiation protection standards organizations. He served as a member of various standards working groups, including ANSI N13, ANSI N42.RPI (radiation protection instrumentation), ASTM E10.04, and IEC SC45B (radiation protection instrumentation). Administratively, he served for many years as vice-chair and a member of the executive committee of the United States Nuclear Technical Advisory Group, which coordinates American participation in the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee-85 (Nuclear Energy).

Al was a charter member and emeritus fellow of the Health Physics Society and a member of the Southern California Chapter. He provided volunteer service in many capacities and particularly in the area of standards where he, as chair of ANSI N13, worked closely with the HPS Standards Committee. He was a certified health physicist and emeritus member of the American Academy of Health Physics, having served on the Academy Board of Directors (1993-1996). He was known among his health physics colleagues for the intensity and zeal with which he comported himself professionally. These characteristics carried over into his personal life as well.

He was an accomplished musician and shared his talents with others. During his Naval assignment to the aircraft carrier USS Midway, he directed the choir and played the organ. In subsequent years, he entertained his fellow church members and others with his original musical compositions. He was an active amateur thespian, participating in little-theater groups in the various locations where his occupation took him to Idaho Falls, Albuquerque, San Jose, and finally, Encinitas. In Encinitas, he was an active participant in community affairs during what were supposed to have been his retirement years, serving on numerous civic bodies and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Encinitas Senior Foundation.

Personally, Al was genial, gentlemanly, and welcoming, always ready to respond to the needs of others by sharing his considerable technical knowledge with them. In short, he was the kind of person who attracted friends readily and, busy as he was with professional responsibilities at meetings and elsewhere, somehow found the time to always be ready to socialize or to discuss (argue?) with great passion and enthusiasm the merits of the many various and usually controversial causes in which he believed or had strong opinions. This was especially true for radiation hormesis and the linear no-threshold response theory and global warming, special interests of his. It was an intensive and exhausting experience to be buttonholed by Al on either topic.

Al is survived by his beloved wife Lorraine, four children, six grandchildren, and his two special cats, Misty and Tambourine. He is also survived by the important contributions he made to our profession and the positive influence he had on his numerous friends and colleagues. Al, you will be missed by all of your health physics friends and colleagues. Rest in peace, dear friend!