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In Memoriam: Dr. Richard W. Drisko

Monday, September 14, 2015

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Longtime SSPC writer, editor, consultant and educator Dr. Richard W. Drisko (“Dr. Dick”) passed away late last month (Aug. 28).

Drisko had spent 19 years with SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings before retiring from the association in March 2014.

A memorial service was held Saturday (Sept. 12) at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Ventura, CA.

A Prolific Writer and Educator

During his impressive career, Drisko published more than 100 technical reports in the field of protective coatings and corrosion control.

Early on, Drisko enjoyed a long stint with the U.S. Navy. During that time he wrote training manuals on corrosion control for Navy and Air Force facilities, including Maintenance of Waterfront Structures and Maintenance of Fleet Moorings, which he used when teaching courses on the subject at military installations around the world.

When he came to SPPC in 1995, Drisko immediately began work on writing SSPC’s Fundamentals of Protective Coatings (C1) program. He also helped to revise a training course on the painting of U.S. Navy ships.

He was one of SSPC’s first instructors and taught these courses throughout the United States.

During his tenure, Drisko’s work with SSPC resulted in publication of several of SSPC’s most popular titles. He served as editor and author for the SSPC Painting Manual Volume 1 and coauthored The Inspection of Coatings and Linings, Selecting Coatings for Industrial and Marine Structures, The Fundamentals of Cleaning and Coating Concrete and Corrosion and Coatings.

He also contributed articles to JPCL on topics such as “Coatings for Tropical Exposures” and “Coatings for Triservice Shelters.”

Hands-on Work

While with the Navy, Drisko was responsible for more than writing and teaching. He also conducted more than 50 research, development, test and evaluation projects and developed the use of cathodic protection systems for buoys and mooring chains that are still in use today.

Additionally, Drisko assisted with military field activities in North America, Europe and Asia conducting base-wide corrosion/painting surveys at Vandenberg Air Force Base; Cape Canaveral Air Force Base; U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, Kanahoe; Commander Fleet Activities, Sasebo and Okinawa, Japan; U.S. Naval Air Facility, Atsugi, Japan; Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Hawaii; and Ship Repair Facility and Naval Magazine, Guam.

Among the many credentials he earned, he was a Registered Professional Engineer (Corrosion), State of California; Protective Coating Specialist, SSPC; and Corrosion Specialist, NACE.

An Active Participant

Drisko’s work was not confined to the office or training room. He served on the SSPC Board of Governors, delivered technical presentations at the SSPC Annual Conference and participated in committees, including serving as chair of 12 symposia and committee meetings. 

He was also an active member of NACE International, for which he served as Trustee of Channel Islands Section, presented 20 technical papers, chaired 12 symposia and committee meetings at the national conference and published 12 journal articles. 

Lauded Professional

Drisko was recognized with an SSPC John D. Keane Award, which acknowledges outstanding leadership and significant contributions to the development of the protective coatings industry and to SSPC. The association also presented him with a Certificate of Recognition.

NACE recognized him with the Meritorious Service Award, Certificate of Recognition, Technical Achievement Award, and the Western States Corrosion Engineer of Year (1986).

The U.S. Department of Defense also acknowledged his service the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award (NAVFAC’s highest award), the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award and Navy special achievement and outstanding service awards.

He also received the Federal Laboratory Consortium Special Award for Technology Transfer (twice), as well as numerous Air Force, Army, and Navy letters of commendation

Additionally, he was awarded two patents, including “Quick setting adhesive for application underwater” and “Fungus resistant protective coatings.”

While a student at Stanford University—where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, a master's degree in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry—he achieved Lower Division Honors as well as Graduation with Great Distinction.

He received the four-year George E. Gamble Scholarship along with the David L. and Lavinia E. Sloan Fellowship, the John M. Schwitzer Fellowship and the Rosenberg Fellowship.

Drisko was also a dedicated public servant to the County of Ventura (California), for which he received commendations for service on the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee and the Air Pollution Control Emergency Action Committee.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Corrosion control coatings; Corrosion protection; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Marine; Marine Coatings; NACE; North America; Obituaries; Program/Project Management; Protective Coatings; SSPC; U.S. Air Force; U.S. Navy; Waterfronts

Comment from Ken Tator, (9/14/2015, 10:31 AM)

Dr. Dick Drisko was a giant in our coatings industry. Not only was he a scientist, but also a writer, lecturer, teacher and perhaps most importantly a friendly mentor to pretty much anyone he met in his many areas of coating expertise. I knew him well, and was a beneficiary of his mentoring. His passing is a personal loss to me, and to the entire coatings industry. Ken Tator

Comment from Alison Kaelin, (9/14/2015, 5:25 PM)

Dr. Dick was a great resource, expert and teacher. He was very helpful to me when I was learning about coatings. Much like Eric Kline we all have lost a tremendous body of knowledge with his passing. He will be missed.

Comment from DHIRENDRA KUMAR, (9/16/2015, 5:14 AM)

I remember Dr Drisko paper published in Journal of Paint Technology wherein he has given outlines of his work on paint for application on submerged areas. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first paper on such type of application. I am sure his work continue to motivate others in the field.

Comment from alex nunez, (9/16/2015, 8:57 AM)

"A great lost to the industry"

Comment from Frank Windler, (4/13/2016, 4:35 PM)

Dick was not only respected by his peers but always treated each of us with kindness and respect. His knowledge of protective coatings was vast and he so generously shared this knowledge whenever asked. He will be missed as a coating expert but more importantly for the fine man he was.

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