In Memoriam: Gregg Dempsey


by Edward Wilds, Jr., PhD

Gregg Dennis Dempsey, 60, of Las Vegas, Nevada, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, 31 December 2015. Gregg was born in Canton, Ohio, but spent much of his childhood in Cleveland, Mississippi. A graduate of Cleveland High School, Gregg was also a proud Eagle Scout, was a member of the Order of the Arrow, and exemplified Boy Scout values throughout his inspiring life. Gregg was also a member of the Health Physics Society (HPS) and was a Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors emeritus member.

Gregg graduated from the University of Mississippi—"Ole' Miss"—and after graduation served for just over eight years at the Mississippi State Department of Health's Division of Radiological Health in Jackson, Mississippi, eventually becoming the director for Environmental Monitoring and Emergency Response. After serving the citizens of the state of Mississippi, Gregg accepted a position with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a staff scientist with the Field Studies Branch in the Office of Radiation Programs in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gregg spent the majority of his career at the EPA in Las Vegas, receiving several promotions from supervisory physical scientist to senior science advisor. During the period from 1993 until his death in 2015, Gregg also served as commander of the Radiological Emergency Response Team, one of the EPA's special response teams. His work took him all over the nation and world and provided him a unique opportunity to tour Chernobyl in the 1990s.

Gregg's other notable achievements during his career at both the state and federal level of service include:

  • Designed and outfitted the state of Mississippi mobile radiation laboratory.
  • Represented the Mississippi State Department of Health on the Southern States Energy Board.
  • Developed a sample preparation laboratory for the EPA Field Studies Branch and updated the mobile radiation laboratory.
  • Designed and upgraded the sample preparation laboratory, mobile emergency response laboratory, and mobile command post for the EPA's Office of Radiation and Indoor Air.
  • Represented the EPA on several occasions at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.
  • Worked with the United Nations Development Programme.
  • Worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Worked on EPA projects in the Ukraine and the Netherlands.

With over 36 years of experience in radiation protection, 28 of which were with the EPA, Gregg's passion and commitment to our nation, our profession, and the HPS were shown by his high professional standards. As an EPA senior science advisor, he was a trusted source of information and advice to leaders at all levels of government on ionizing radiation issues. During his career he mentored many of today's current radiation scientists in the EPA.

Gregg enjoyed many pastimes, including traveling, genealogy, studying U.S. history, attending concerts, restoring antique cars, and exploring the countryside in his Corvette or on his Harley. Gregg accomplished much in this life, but he will be most remembered for his generous spirit, which will be missed by all who knew him. He was preceded in death by his father, Jack Dempsey, in 2010 and his best friend and beloved dog, Spike.

Gregg leaves behind his loving family including his mother, Marilyn Dempsey; brother, Keith Dempsey; niece, Madeleine Dempsey; loyal companions, Sydney and Shadow; and many dear friends from all around the globe. Donations may be made to one of Gregg's personal efforts to help others in need, the Delta Children's Home, PO Box 573, Kennett, MO 63857.