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In Memory of Dick Fitzner and Les Eberhardt

Dick Fitzner
Dick Fitzner

(Excerpts from the 'Greenie', June 12, 1992)


Their names have become synonymous with the Hanford environment and wildlife.  They dedicated their lives to the preservation of wildlife and for more than 20 years they worked at Hanford in the environmental sciences area.


It was with great sorrow that Battelle learned of Les Eberhardt's and Dick Fitzner's deaths on June 3, 1992 as a result of an airplane crash.  On a day when thousands of world leaders and environmentalists were gathering in Rio De Janeiro to argue about saving the environment, Les and Dick lost their lives gathering information that will contribute to saving the environment.  Also killed in the crash was the pilot, Ray Gilkerson, co-owner of Kennewick Aircraft Services.  'Les and Dick were unselfish, dedicated environmental scientists,' reflected Mike Graham, Earth and Environmental Sciences Center deputy director. 'They touched the lives of many people through their support to students, their mentoring of junior staff and their commitment to teamwork.   They will be greatly missed, personally and professionally.'


'To those privileged to have known them, Les and Dick were truly representative of the environmental scientists who will lessen the impact of civilization on the living creatures in our environment,' said Bill Bair, Life Sciences Center director.

Les Eberhardt (left)
Les Eberhardt (left)

A senior research scientist in the Environmental Sciences Department, Dick joined Battelle in  1970 and conducted research on population ecology of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.  He conducted several surveys of bald eagles, marine mammals and seabirds and was the principal investigator on studies of Canada goose nesting ecology, waterfowl and bird-of-prey behavior and ecology in Eastern Washington.  Dick also used wildlife such as herons, raptors, seabirds, waterfowl and small mammals to monitor the effects of energy related contaminants on the environment.  Dick was active in several education programs, serving as an associate  professor and head of the Biology Department at Washington State University, Tri-Cities.  He was one of the first six researchers in 1984 to participate in the Sharing Science with Schools program, which now has more than 60 participating staff members.  Dick also participated in the Laboratory's summer Honors Program, the annual Centrum Marine Ecology Workshop in Sequim, Earth Day and OPTIONS workshops.


Since joining Battelle in 1978, Les, a research scientist  in the Environmental Sciences Department, was involved in a wide range of wildlife work at Hanford as well as with research on ecological problems connected with management and storage of radioactive waste.  His thesis research for his doctorate in 1986 was on Canada geese on the Columbia River near Hanford.  Experienced in use of radiotelemetry to study various species of wildlife, Les used the technique to study elk and mule deer on the Arid Land Ecology Reserve.  From 1974 to 1982, he participated on and directed the Department of Energy's study on the impacts of oil development on wildlife in northern Alaska.  The study included small mammals, carnivores and tundra-nesting birds.  He conducted  radiotelemetry and habitat studies of sage grouse on the Yakima Training Center for the U.S. Department of Defense.

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