In Memoriam: David "Dave" Kent


by DeeDee McNeill DeGrooth, NRRPT Executive Secretary; Kelli Gallion, NRRPT Past Chairman of the Board; Dave Wirkus, NRRPT Board of Directors

Dave Kent was born on 22 June 1962 and passed away 2 November 2015. Long involved with the National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists (NRRPT), Dave is remembered and deeply missed by his NRRPT colleagues.

Dave was a U.S. Navy veteran. He had 32 years of nuclear safety-related experience, including 23 years at U.S. Department of Energy sites such as Fernald, Portsmouth, and Paducah. Dave's unique leadership style allowed him to keep workers safe while having a calming influence in critical and high-profile operations.

Dave began his term on the NRRPT Panel of Examiners in 1992 and was elected to the NRRPT Board of Directors in 1996. When Dave became chairman of the board in 1999, he brought honor and dignity to the NRRPT organization. He was chairman of the board when the NRRPT began its sponsorship program, which continues to be instrumental in sustaining the NRRPT today.

Dave was honored with the NRRPT Fellow Member Award, which exhibited his leadership and dedication toward promoting and advancing the science of health physics. Kelli Gallion points out that the term "legacy" is "a very overused word these days—it seems that everyone and everything has to have one—but with Dave, it's true. He has left behind a very real legacy, which will positively impact the field of radiation protection and health physics for years to come. On a personal level, every one of us who knew Dave and worked alongside him will remember him with great affection. When all is said and done, however much you like your work, it's the people that you meet in it that really matter. Colleagues like Dave are very special; you don't come across many of them and when you do, they leave a lasting impression."

Friendship with Dave Kent changed the life of colleague Dave Wirkus. Dave Kent was a senior health and safety manager at the Mound Plant in Ohio where Wirkus was a radiation control technician. The two struck up a friendship, and Dave Kent asked if Wirkus was interested in becoming NRRPT registered. Wirkus stated: "At the time I did not even know what that stood for as my background was all in the Navy program. I quickly got the information, and with Dave's support and encouragement I started my long association with this great organization. I always appreciated Dave's easygoing style of management—he made you want to do better and follow his example. He has had a personal impact on my life for the better."

Besides his technical skill and management acumen, Dave Kent impressed his colleagues with other talents. As DeeDee McNeill DeGrooth noted, "Along with his leadership and technical abilities, I loved his writing skills. He had an incredible way of putting words on paper. When he was NRRPT chairman, I'd tell him I needed the Chairman's Message for the NRRPT quarterly newsletter and the next day it was on my desk and perfectly written. If you needed an article written or edited, Dave was your guy!"

Dave had excellent people skills as well. Dave always had a big smile on his face, gladly offering a helping hand or words of encouragement. He was truly a selfless person who strived to build the character of others. And Dave was a devoted husband as well. He was never happier than when he met, fell in love with, and married the love of his life, Beckie.

Dave was a great leader, friend, and colleague; he will be deeply missed by the entire health physics community. Our deepest sympathy and condolences are with Dave's family and with his best friend and beautiful wife Beckie. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1121 Kinney's Lane, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.