COEH members are saddened by the loss of two long-time friends who were strong supporters of our efforts to improve occupational health and safety conditions for workers. John Talty passed away in January and Lela Morris in February 2011.
John’s distinguished service with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) included 30 years in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (1960-1990). While serving in the Corps, John received three Medals of Honor: March of 1985 – Accommodation Medal; June 1987 – Outstanding Service Medal; and February 1991 – Meritorious Service Medal.
John served NIOSH two additional decades after his retirement from the Public Health Service working in the early 1990’s as a Supervisor General Engineer in the Education and Information Division, and later as a Scientific Program Officer in the Office of Extramural Programs. John was the NIOSH Program Officer for COEH. He continued to provide leadership, direction and guidance for a broad range of occupational safety and health disciplines including Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Medicine, Occupational Health Nursing, Occupational Safety and Occupational Health Psychology. John was instrumental in helping ensure the quality of training provided by Education and Research Centers and Training Project Grants funded by NIOSH. He leaves a legacy of a multitude of students who have benefitted from his dedication to excellence in learning. “John was unstintingly generous, extremely patient, and consistently went out of his way to make sure that our reports were perfectly accurate assuring that the ERCs and NIOSH were represented in the best possible light,” said Marion Gillen, deputy director of COEH. “He will be sorely missed.”
Lela Morris joined COEH in 1982 as the Center’s first Director of Continuing Education. She was critical to the establishment of COEH and the development of the NIOSH’s Education and Research Center (ERC).
To honor Lela’s legacy, the directors of COEH have renamed one of its most important annual events in her honor. COEH’s Symposium will now be called the Lela Morris Annual COEH Symposium. This is a fitting tribute to Lela who was a shining example of how to bridge the gap between the campus and the community.
The Symposium brings together students, faculty, alumni, staff and community, across three UC campuses and across all academic disciplines involved in COEH. In past years, symposium topics have included a focus on air pollution, asthma, work organization, climate change, health policy, injury prevention, and most recently, problems facing immigrant and vulnerable workers. These are topics that were important to Lela. The event will also provide us with a lasting reminder of the values she imparted to our program, in particular, bridging our differences and coming together for a greater good.
Lela was a very important part of COEH, LOHP and the NIOSH-funded ERC. “Her astounding ability to encourage and cajole people to do the right thing was simply a miracle to be witnessed,” said Marion Gillen, deputy director of COEH. “Her graciousness, infectious enthusiasm and thoughtful design laid the foundation for a program that has grown considerably and continued to thrive in the more than twenty years since her retirement. We are honored to call her one of our own, and will continue to honor her memory through our Lela Morris Annual COEH Symposium.”
Source: NIOSH newsletter announcement
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