In Memorium: Ralph B. Stuart III

Ralph Stuart,
Environmental Safety Mgr, Keene State College,
Past Chair & Membership Chair DCHAS

Please add your thoughts, prayers, and memories in the comment section below.

Ralph Stuart, a groundbreaker in environmental health and safety and a leader in ACS, passed away on December 6, 2023.

Over the course of nearly 40 years, Ralph made an incredible impact on health and safety.

Ralph was a pioneer in the health and safety field. Within ACS, he worked with and led the Division of Chemical Health and Safety and the Committee on Chemical Safety. He created the first known safety listserve (SAFETY-L), as well as the DCHAS-L listserve and this DCHAS website. He was an active member of the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) for more than 35 years, and he worked with organizations and individuals worldwide.

Ralph has published many papers and presented scores of lectures, workshops, and webinars, and he encouraged and inspired even more papers and presentations from others. He was so creative, so intelligent, and so motivated to push harder to find more and more ways to reach people and connect them with the information they need – his enthusiasm and passion were infectious. He mentored many people, from health and safety professionals to undergraduate students.

Ralph didn’t just talk, he acted, and in so doing created or inspired countless resources.

In 1985, Ralph joined the staff of the University of Vermont to create their first Chemical Right-to-Know program. Over the next 27 years, he built that program into an Environmental Health and Safety office that continues to flourish under the leadership of his protégé, Francis Churchill. He returned to his alma mater, Cornell University, where he made the connection between health and safety and science librarians, which initiated the connection between CHAS and CINF. In 2014, Ralph joined Keene State College as its Chemical Hygiene Officer and Environmental Safety Manager. He served as a mentor to many students in the Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences program and taught several courses. He was expecting to retire from Keene State later this year.

Among his countless accomplishments, Ralph created networks for individuals and groups to communicate and share resources and ideas virtually. In the early 1990s, he recognized the connection of behavioral sciences and laboratory safety and brought such professionals into the field. He boldly reached out to the EPA to convince them that there was a more effective way to manage chemical waste at universities, eventually leading to the current Academic Waste Rules. He worked with the NIH and international collaborators to study how people look for chemical safety information and how to drive them to the best resources. He worked with graduate students and early career scientists and health and safety professionals to provide mentorship and encourage best practices and conversation. He worked with educators to advance pedagogy for continuous learning.

Ralph influenced, inspired, and mentored so many people who will feel his loss, and impacted people who never heard of him in ways they will not know. He has truly planted trees under whose shade he knew he would never sit. 

Ralph’s family will have a private memorial service in 2024. ACS DCHAS will share additional ways to celebrate his life over the coming weeks.

29 thoughts on “In Memorium: Ralph B. Stuart III”

  1. I am so sad today. I lost a dear friend. Ralph was a pioneer, leader, role model, and champion of chemical health and safety and industrial hygiene for his entire life.
    He will be missed.

  2. I have learned so much from DCHAS-L over the years, and this has happened only through the work of Ralph Stuart. I am very thankful for him, and my sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

  3. I find it hard to express my gratitude for Ralph’s friendship and collaboration over the decades of my career. He was smart, inspirational, and encouraging. I will miss him very much. To everyone, I know he was a friend you could rely on. He loved his family. I am glad that others are so eloquent in their praise of Ralph. Their words both deepen and relieve my grief.

  4. This one hits different, folks. Ralph’s mentorship, collaboration, and support have directly influenced so many of our journeys, and the impacts he has made ripple out to all the individuals protected by the work that we do. Ralph has passed the baton to us, now. We will honor his legacy by nurturing and expanding the communities and connections he has created.

  5. Ralph changed so many lives for the better. I hope, at some level, he knew that and it brought him a sense of peace.

    May we honor Ralph’s life and legacy by modeling his commitment to kindness and safety.

    Thank you Ralph.

  6. I can’t help but to think of the last time I saw Ralph at the ACS CHAS Executive Committee Meeting in San Francisco a few months ago. Ralph quietly sat off to the side, alone, observing the meeting at the table. He said little, just observing. It was as if he was watching the torch being passed to the next generation of Chemical Health and Safety leaders. Always a gentleman and scholar, mentor and educator, a dear friend to all. That image sticks with me now, as I imagine Ralph sitting to the side saying, “Carry on my friends. Carry on.” And so we will … with our memories his life and legacy.

  7. I had the opportunity to work with Ralph on the Chemical Safety Library project for the past couple of years – yet another of his contributions to connecting people with the safety information they need. It was far too short, but I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with, and learned from, him.

    Rest in peace, Ralph.

  8. Ralph’s insightful and creative ways of approaching “safety” in academic laboratory settings was groundbreaking. His willingness to contribute not only ideas but real effort will be sorely missed. I’ve respected Ralph’s contributions and collaborative efforts since I first joined in on the SAFETY-L listserve. His Innovative Project Grants helped make our D-CHAS division efforts much more relevant and useful to the Chemistry Enterprise… His leadership on the Society’s Safety Committee and elsewhere are truly going to be missed.

  9. I’m very sorry to hear of Ralph’s passing. This community has suffered a great loss. When I changed my research career to chemical safety, Ralph was one of my mentors on this subject. Ralph has sent me hundreds of e-mails offering advice on various aspects of industrial hygiene and chemical safety. Ralph recently guided a team of specialists, including myself, regarding how to discuss SOPs and risk assessment with researchers. Great communicator. Ralph was not just a superb safety leader but also a wonderful person.

    Thank you, Ralph!

  10. Ralph, thank you for everything you’ve done for me, for always being available for phone calls and discussions. I will miss you. I am forever indebted to your kindness and support.

  11. Ralph was an inspiration to me, both personally and professionally. He was a champion for health and safety, and his contributions to academic laboratory safety were impressive. He never tired of advancing the cause for everyone’s benefit. All DivCHAS community members will miss his leadership, friendly smile, and witty sense of humor.

  12. I have known Ralph as an innovator in our field and a friend for almost 35 years. When I was new in the field, he and I were explorers together, and I was grateful to have someone close by (electronically) with whom I could grieve, complain, celebrate, laugh, and conspire.

    I am deeply honored to have collaborated with him where I have. He has, indeed, left an impression – all that any of us could ever hope to have done. I have several fond memories of Ralph that I will treasure forever. One is when he and I sat in an unconditioned classroom in Manoa talking over the name of our professional association. In this and so many other ways, Ralph has shaped our profession, and I am honored to have known him.

  13. Ralph was a pioneering giant in the health and safety field. I first encountered him (on line) around 1987 in the early days of the Safety list as it filled the niche previously occupied to a degree by the old CompuServe Safetynet community. He was connecting academic health and safety professionals with those in the armed forces and those in industry, something not well done before. And he went on to do so much more. We will not see his like any time soon.

  14. What a fantastic example of what our profession does best. I have the utmost respect and admiration for all he has done for ACS , his students and many, many others.
    Ralph had a chapter in the revision to the Handbook of Occupational Safety and Health with Bob Herrick and Jim Stewart and we had many conversations over the years.
    He will be truly missed. RIP

  15. It is hard to imagine the college and university EHS world without Ralph in it. He was a true, though quiet and humble, leader. He was a also scholar, and an agent of change. I’m grateful to have worked with him on the C/U waste management issue. 40 CFR 262 Subpart K is part of Ralph’s legacy. I’m so sorry he didn’t get a chance to reach retirement. I thought he would keep thinking and writing and sharing his wisdom with us for a while longer.

  16. I had the pleasure to meet, know, and work with Ralph at Keene State. Every year, Ralph would take 2 or 3 safety students under his wings to give than a meaningful internship experience. When we needed an adjunct instructor, Ralph was there. I got to watch him manage a college’s response to COVID. He tested and certified most of the campus classroom ventilation systems using a technique that he developed using CO2 fire extinguishers ( I know that correlation is not proof, but no professors were diagnosed with COVID the entire semester when we returned to the classroom. Best of all, you could not fluster him. He was even-keeled, compassionate, friendly, and dedicated to his art. His students and the faculty feel a real loss of a gentleman and a scholar.

    1. I absolutely agree Dr. Rennix. He always had a calming and inspiring effect on me. We will miss his presence at Keene State.

  17. It is shockingly sad news to Chemical Safety Library (CSL) colleagues that one of our Advisors, Ralph Stuart, passed away on 12/6. Ralph joined the CSL Advisory Panel in the summer of 2020 and has been a dedicated member and major contributor to CSL development in Higher Education sector. He initiated the CSL in a Box project funded by a CHAS IPG Grant and led the collaboration between CSL and University of Minnesota. These efforts have expanded CSL outreach and helped grow the database by over 50%. We express our deep and sincere condolences to Ralph’s family and friends. His professionalism, sense of humor and passion for promoting chemical lab safety will be missed by CSL colleagues at CAS and Pistoia Alliance.

  18. I credit where I am now professionally to Ralph’s help and guidance. 10 years or so ago, our OSHS director seeing my interest in laboratory safety, encouraged me to ask Ralph to add me to DCHAS-L email list as a guest. Ralph kindly let me stay on as a guest, with posting privilege’s, for a number of years before becoming a full ACS member. The topics and subjects discussed during those “guest” years gave me to experience and confidence to apply for an open position in our safety office. He continued to allow me to bounce ideas and suggestions off him (as well as this list).

    Rest in peace Ralph.


  19. I had the privaledge of being mentored by Ralph on RAMP risk assessment and working with him on a couple workshops at UMN. He greatly influenced my motivation as a graduate student to get involved with safety and DCHAS to spread the word on research safety best practices. It is shock to hear of his passing and I and the UMN JST are so saddened. Ralph’s impact through his workshops here continues to live on as it does at other institutions he worked with. A true testiment to the greatest of his work and his dedication to a cause he cared about. Rest in peace, Ralph! You will be missed!

  20. I just learned of Ralph’s passing. He is going to be sorely missed by many. He was a friend, a champion of Safety, a strong supporter of organizations focused on Safety and provided us all with a means to communicate with each other. He helped form a community of practice that will be a long lasting legacy.

    He worked quietly with strength. I am going to miss his voice of reason, his passion and his forward thinking.

    May his family find peace and may he find rest.

  21. Ralph was an amazing leader and champion for academic laboratory safety with major contributions on many fronts. This is a tragic loss and he will be missed by everyone in the safety community.

  22. Ralph’s legacy is evidenced in this touching tribute and in these comments. His ability to create community lives on. I will miss working with Ralph to create Health and Safety policies and professional development presentations for our staff at KSC CDC. He was a master at making information relevant, accessible, and even FUN to learn. I will miss his guidance and support, but most of all I will miss our friendship.

  23. We have lost a legend and I send my love and condolences to his family. Ralph helped me early in my career immensely and we worked together on regulatory reform of CU waste management rules with NH DES and eventually the EPA. He was so knowledgeable and patient and was a wonderful communicator and teacher. He devoted his career to health and safety and our profession. I sent Ralph a message in late November after I heard he was not well. So glad I did. A life well lived!! Rest in peace.

  24. Learning of Ralph’s death was a blow to the gut. Ralph and I seemly to go back to the beginning of time. I was EH&S Director @ UMASS for 42 years and connected with Ralph when he started at UVM. He was truly an humble human being and amazing in his knowledge and integrity. During his last visit to UMASS he discharged a lot of CO2 extinguishers while testing our fume hoods! God speed Ralph in your new venture!

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