The Robert T. Hughes Memorial Award was founded in 2015 to honor Mr. Hughes, who passed away in late 2014. Robert T. “Bob” Hughes joined the ACGIH® Industrial Ventilation Committee in 1976. He served as its Chairperson for 11 years before stepping down in 2001, though he remained dedicated and active on the Committee until his death. This award was established by the ACGIH® Board of Directors to recognize outstanding individuals in the field of industrial ventilation. This year’s Robert T. Hughes Memorial Award recipient is William (Bill) Cleary.
Mr. Cleary earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from what was then Michigan State College in 1952. He then entered the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant in July of 1952 and left the service as a First Lieutenant in March of 1954. Upon leaving the Army, he became employed by the Michigan Department of Public Health, Division of Occupational Health. While with the Division, Bill also obtained an MBA from Michigan State University in 1989. Bill served the Division for nearly 40 years in various capacities as both a Certified Industrial Hygienist and licensed Professional Engineer, retiring as its Deputy Chief in 1993. In his retirement, Bill consulted on various industrial ventilation projects and also performed energy audits.
Highlights of Bill’s career with the Division included serving as a first responder to and investigator for the Lake Huron Water Supply Project tunnel explosion in Port Huron in December of 1971; twenty-two employees died in this event and its remains as one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Michigan history. Bill also served as part of the team that compared existing Michigan occupational safety and health regulations against those enacted by the newly created federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1971. His work was instrumental to the creation of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), which was enacted in January of 1975 and administered by both Michigan’s Departments of Labor and Public Health.
Both in his employment with the Division and in his retirement, Bill was professionally active. He served as a member of the ACGIH® Industrial Ventilation Committee for 29 years; from 1976 through 2006. During his time with the committee, Bill served as its Chairperson from 1978 through 1984. Bill was also active with the Michigan Industrial Hygiene Society for more than 50 years and served in numerous administrative positions during that time. Additionally, he served several other organizations, including: the Michigan Safety Conference; annual industrial ventilation conferences in Michigan, Washington, and Alabama; and his church. Bill also authored both industrial hygiene and ventilation articles for numerous professional and trade publications, lectured at many trade events and conferences, and mentored many industrial hygienists and engineers.
Bill Cleary has made significant contributions to both the fields of industrial ventilation and industrial hygiene, and ACGIH® is pleased to honor him as the recipient of this year’s Hughes Memorial Award.