In Memoriam: Ronald C. Schrotke, Sr.


by Ronald L. Kathren, CHP

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of yet another close friend and colleague in the health physics community at Hanford, Washington. On 18 September 2008, Ronald C. Schrotke, Sr., peacefully passed away at the age of 77 at his retirement home on the Oregon coast after a four-year struggle with heart disease. Ron was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He served in the Air Force in Alaska during the Korean War and upon his return to Portland in 1954 he married Phyllis Andersen. The following year they moved to the Tri-Cities, where Ron began his career in radiation safety as a radiation monitor for General Electric, then the prime contractor for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. By diligent study and application to his work, he was promoted to the professional ranks as a specialist. In 1965, when the Hanford site was diversified, Ron joined Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories as a health physics regulatory auditor and was promoted in 1976 to radiation protection supervisor, a position he held until his retirement in 1991.

Ron held a number of special technical assignments over his career, including the retrieval of a steam generator from the Surrey plant and oversight of its shipment to Hanford for disposal. However, the capstone of his career was the powerful leading role he played in the formation and development of the National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists (NRRPT). During the initial formative stages of the NRRPT in 1976, Ron served as the representative of the Columbia Chapter of the Health Physics Society (HPS), personally playing a leading role in the establishment of that body. He was instrumental in ensuring that those who were admitted to the NRRPT met suitable educational and experience standards and conformed to a rigid code of ethics. He was selected to be a member of the original Panel of Examiners of NRRPT, contributing significantly to the development of the early examination protocol. In 1979 he was elected secretary-treasurer of NRRPT, and chairman of the Panel of Examiners in 1982, a position he held until his retirement in 1991. He was made a Fellow of the HPS in 1991 and in 1997 was the recipient of the prestigious Arthur F. Humm, Jr., Memorial Award for his years of dedicated service and contributions to the NRRPT.

Ron was passionately dedicated to encouraging and providing educational opportunities and to gaining recognition for the NRRPT and its members. He worked diligently to ensure that the required examination was relevant and meaningful and that the Code of Ethics was strictly followed. His paper "Characteristics of NRRPT Applicants and Examination Success," presented at the 13th annual midyear symposium of the HPS (PNL-SA-7756, published in Health Physics Training, W.L. Yanger and P.J. Manley, eds., Honolulu, 10-13 December 1979, pp. 397-406), of which I was privileged to serve as junior author, reveals much of his deep abiding commitment to the development and recognition of the NRRPT.

Ron's efforts to develop capabilities in others were not limited to the NRRPT. He was never too busy to help others with their problems and frequently provided practical solutions to potentially vexing problems to those for whom he was entrusted to provide radiation protection services. He taught numerous in-service training courses and served the youth of his community as a scoutmaster for a dozen years. Ron is survived by his wife Phyllis, son Ron and daughter-in-law Lynn, and sister Lois.