In Memoriam: William "Bill" Charles Reining


by Shawn Googins, CHP

William "Bill" Charles Reinig died on 25 August 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland, of pancreatic cancer. Reinig was born on 5 June 1924 to William Charles Costello Reinig and Alice Schuster Reinig in Queens, New York, where he was raised.

Bill received a bachelor of mechanical engineering degree from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering) and served in the Navy during World War II. After the war he joined General Electric and began his career as a reactor health physicist in 1946 at the Hanford Works, under the supervision of none other than William McAdams. In 1948 he was employed by Associated Universities and became the leader of the radiation protection program at the nation's first peace-time research reactor at Brookhaven National Laboratory during its startup and initial operations.

In 1951 Bill was employed by the DuPont Company at the Savannah River Site (SRS) to lead the preoperational environmental survey of the site. He led a research team that measured the natural radioactivity of 15,500 km2 of SRS and its environs outside of Aiken, South Carolina. This was the first large-scale environmental survey of naturally occurring radioactivity. The study was completed in 1953 and still serves as a national benchmark for responsible environmental stewardship. The monitoring system and stations established at that time have measured and reported annually for over 60 years. At SRS Bill held various technical and management positions, including superintendent of the Health Physics Department for 10 years. When Westinghouse became the operator of SRS in 1988, he was appointed deputy general manager of the Environment, Safety, and Health Department and a consulting scientist before his retirement in 1993.

Bill was active in various professional societies. He was a charter member, fellow, and president of the Health Physics Society (HPS). His activities for both the national and local health physics communities were numerous. He served on the Nominating Committee and Code of Ethics Committee, as well as the Council on Rules and Procedures. In 1964 and 1965, he was the secretary of the HPS and in 1969–1971 he was a director of the Society. In 1979 and 1980, he was president-elect and president. Bill also remained active in the local SRS health physics scene. He was a founder and president of the Savannah River Chapter of HPS and was also the program chairman of the 1968 HPS Midyear Symposium.

As one of the early contributors to the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP), Bill served on the first examination panel from 1961 to 1967, as panel chair from 1962 to 1965, and again as panel chair in 1966. He became a member of the ABHP Board of Directors in 1967, ABHP secretary-treasurer from 1968 to 1974, and chairman of the ABHP in 1975 and 1976. He also served as a director of the American Academy of Health Physics (AAHP) in 1986 and 1987. In 2006 he received the William A. McAdams Outstanding Service Award presented by AAHP for his significant contributions to the radiation protection profession. He was elected to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and during his six years on the council, he chaired the scientific committee on tritium measurements.

Bill published over 40 technical papers and was editor of the book Environmental Surveillance in the Vicinity of Nuclear Facilities. He was a cofounder of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA), a grassroots organization that supports and promotes beneficial uses of nuclear energy. He served as vice-chair of CNTA for nine years. He enjoyed gardening, reading, traveling, and watching movies. After retirement, he wrote a remarkably detailed memoir about growing up in Queens during the depression for the benefit of his children and grandchildren.

In 1949 Bill married Marion Borgstrom, whom he met at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She passed away in 2007, three days after their 58th wedding anniversary. He was also predeceased by his parents and his sister, Sally, and his brother, Edward, and their spouses. He is survived by his son, James Reinig, PhD, (Ellen) of Annapolis, Maryland, and daughter Christine Reinig, PhD, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as grandchildren Margaret and Ann Reinig and Dennis and Alice Flournoy.

During our Society's 60th anniversary year, it is appropriate to celebrate the accomplishments of and years of service from the founding members and early contributors to the Society. Without the dedication, sacrifice, and guidance of people like William C. Reinig, the Society and the Academy and Board of Health Physics would not be what they are today.

Bill was a true gentleman. He was soft-spoken, knowledgeable, and a credit to the radiation protection community. He will be missed.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Ginger Cove Foundation, 4000 River Crescent Dr., Annapolis, MD 21401.