In Memoriam of Roy L. DeHart 1938 to 2016
To the Editor:
Roy L. DeHart, MD, MPH, MAIA, FACOEM, FABFM, ACOEM Past President (1992 to 1993), passed away suddenly on December 23, 2016, at the age of 80 years with his wife of 59 years, Julia Goodlett DeHart by his side. As word spread of his passing, many began to reflect on the influence Roy had on their careers, their profession, and in some cases their approach to life. Most of those knew Roy through his work in the areas of aviation and occupational medicine, but few could fathom the breadth of his association in these fields.
Roy spent his early years in Grayson, Kentucky, before moving to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he embarked on his education. He earned his medical degree from the University of Tennessee, a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master in International Affairs from George Washington University.
While in medical school, Roy joined the US Air Force and rose to the rank of Colonel before retiring from the service in 1983. During his 23-year career in the military, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Notably, he served as the US Air Force Commander, Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, from July 1976 until March 1980, before becoming commander of the Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory in Ohio. He was also Commander, USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks AFB, Texas, from March 1980 until September 1983.
After leaving the Air Force, Roy accepted the task of developing an occupational and environmental medicine residency program while he served as Director of the University of Oklahoma's (OU's) Family and Preventive Medicine Department's Division of Occupational Medicine from 1985 to 1998. He was also named Adjunct Professor in Occupational Health for the School of Public Health and Medical Supervisor of the Post-Graduate Occupational Medicine Physician Assistant program. If that were not enough, he accepted an appointment as Chair of OU's Family and Preventive Medicine Department and served in that capacity from 1994 until 1998.
Following his retirement from OU, Roy was appointed in 2002 by President George W. Bush to serve on a presidential committee established to study the effects of radiation on worker health during the development of atomic energy in World War II. But even this level of involvement proved not enough for Roy. He could not sit still, and in January 1999, he participated in the development of the Vanderbilt Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (VCOEM) in Nashville. As was customary in Roy's career, his role at Vanderbilt soon expanded into his becoming Director of the Center.
In 2015, Roy finally retired for good and started his “civilian” career.
During his professional career, Roy was elected to Fellowship status in the American Public Health Association, Royal Society of Health, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Academy of Family Practice, Aerospace Medical Association, and International Academy of Aerospace Medicine. His awards and honors included the Theodore C. Lyster Award in 1986 from the Aerospace Medical Association, the Eric Liljencrantz Award in 2000 from the Aerospace Medical Association, Knudsen Award in 1998 from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and many additional honors and awards.