In Memoriam: Lester Kyle Aldrich II, CHP


by Ron Kathren, CHP, and Dale Denham, CHP

The health physics community lost one of its stalwarts with the passing of Les Aldrich from congestive heart failure at age 70 on 29 December 2006 at his home in Richland, Washington. Les grew up in Ohio and Michigan and enjoyed an early career of 17 years in the U.S. Army, where he served with distinction as a member of the Army Rifle Team and Marksmanship Training Unit until his honorable discharge. After his military service, Les enrolled at North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he earned a master's degree in nuclear engineering. While at NCSU, Les coached all of the university rifle teams, including the NCSU Rifle Team that was ranked the number one nonscholarship college rifle team in the nation for several years. Les also coached the Acorns Junior Rifle Team in Washington, DC, while he was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and the Idaho Falls, Idaho, rifle teams while living there.

Les spent most of his 22-year professional career in health physics at Hanford, retiring in 2001. After his retirement, he continued to consult for various organizations until his death. A certified heath physicist, he served the profession in a number of important ways, devoting countless hours to serving on the Part II Panel of Examiners and chairing the Part I Panel of Examiners of the American Board of Health Physics, serving as a director of the American Academy of Health Physics (AAHP) and on the Continuing Education Committee of the AAHP, and serving on the Health Physics Society Standards Committee Working Group on Radiation Protection Terminology. He was also the International Standards Organization United States Representative for radiation terminology. Quite appropriately, his contributions were recognized by election to Fellow class membership in the Society.

Les was a deeply religious, civic-minded man and active in many organizations outside the profession, including the Boy Scouts of America (which honored him with its prestigious Silver Beaver Award), MENSA, the National Rifle Association (life member), the Republican Party (State Convention Representative), Gideons International, Walk to Emmaus (including the Chrysalis Program), and the Gospel Lights (a music ministry). He did much behind the scenes to enrich people's lives and to serve both his profession and community.

A fixture at the annual meetings, Les and Shirley, his late wife of 49 years who died in 2005, will be missed by their many friends and colleagues in the Society. Those who knew them will recall the gentle Shirley serving as a counterpoint to the gruff and ofttimes provocative and thought-provoking and occasionally contentious Les, who behind this external façade was an equally sensitive and caring individual who strove for perfection in health physics and in all he did and who served as mentor and positive influence to many a newcomer in the field (as well as to some of us older types).