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Subject: A death

A death

From: Ann N'Gadi <ngadia<-a>
Date: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Alan W. Postlethwaite
October 9, 1924 - August 7, 2014

"Other duties as required" is the phrase in the Smithsonian's job
descriptions dreaded by most employees, but for Alan Postlethwaite,
with a science background from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and Sheffield University in England, problems were meant
to be solved and resolved whenever possible.  Alan cheerfully took
on tasks that no one else could or would deal with.

During his tenure at the Conservation Analytical Laboratory (CAL) as
Acting Director and then Deputy Director, Alan inherited an
impossible situation, a directive to handle the pest treatment for
artifacts and works of art.  Federal regulations were being
promulgated that outlawed what had been going on, and new equipment
needed all sorts of calculations, permits, and tedious study.  It
was something that no one wanted to tackle.  Alan took charge and
changed the landscape of pest management in museums.  He not only
got himself licensed and attended Integrated Pest Management
entomological classes, he had several conservators at CAL (now the
Museum Conservation Institute, MCI) take the classes and get
licensed.  He organized the contract with Keith Story to write a
book, Approaches to Pest Management in Museums, the seminal text for
museum pest control world-wide.  He put together a one-day seminar,
open to museum professionals, to attend a course on the topic,
taught by Keith Story in 1985.  It was the first course ever
conducted at the Conservation Analytical Laboratory in its new home
at the Museum Support Center.  He also wrote technical papers on the
revamped operations of a fumigation chamber and ran the "Control of
Biodeterioration" Working Group of the Conservation Committee of the
International Council of Museums (ICOM-CC) for eight years.

Alan was a pleasant, practical presence at the Smithsonian's center
for materials research, preservation, and conservation education. As
with the fumigation issue, he managed operations that kept the
laboratory functioning smoothly.  Those problems he couldn't
resolve, he would sympathize and commiserate, "What can I say?" If
he had to say "no" to your request, he would at least give you a
reason why.  The white board behind his office door occasionally
showed IOU's from the "Bank of Postlethwaite" to employees short of
cash.  In 1994, Alan retired to enjoy life in Washington, D.C. with
his lovely wife Mary, to travel, and to visit with children and
grandchildren.  He kept in touch, calling when he had a conservation
question, and to report that retirement was fine.


                                  ***
                  Conservation DistList Instance 28:13
                  Distributed: Friday, August 29, 2014
                       Message Id: cdl-28-13-001
                                  ***
Received on Thursday, 28 August, 2014

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