In Memoriam Archives: 2017

  • Charles David "Charlie" Dressen, 63, a long-time member of the emergency management community, passed away on Oct. 11, 2017, in South Jordan, Utah. At the age of 18 he enlisted and honorably served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. His 32 years of military service included serving in the Utah National Guard, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Charlie was also an avid Scouter, an Eagle Scout, and served the youth for more than 40 years. His service included scoutmaster, woodbadge course director, vigil member for the Order of the Arrow, district commissioner, and many others. His obituary is posted here. Funeral services will be held Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. in the South Jordan 7th Ward Building, 9750 S. 2200 W. South, Jordan, Utah. IAEM expresses sympathy for his family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Major Phil May, former FEMA Region IV administrator, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 8, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. FEMA Administrator Brock Long noted, "Like many of us, Phil May joined FEMA with the desire to serve others. Following Hurricane Frederick’s strike on Alabama in 1979, he served as Congressman Jack Edwards’ liaison to the FEMA office. Two years later, in 1981, he was appointed as the FEMA Region IV Director, and served in that position until 1994. He assumed his second tour as Region IV director on October 15, 2006, until he retired in 2014. Phil oversaw numerous disasters during his tenure at FEMA, to include leading the response and recovery to Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, the Kentucky ice storm (2009), Tennessee Floods (2010), and the tornadoes that occurred in Georgia (2008), Mississippi (2010), and Alabama (2011). Throughout his time with FEMA, Phil enthusiastically guided the development of both people and programs. Among many others, his mark was left on FEMA when he established the first Regional Hurricane Program to further the development of regional hurricane evacuation studies. This initiative led to closer ties between emergency managers and weather forecasters, and ultimately the establishment of the Hurricane Liaison Team – a mainstay of current operations. Phil had an accomplished and distinguished career in emergency management, and earned both the Distinguished Meritorious Service Award and the Distinguished Civil Service Medal. The Department of Health and Human Services also presented him with its first national Disaster Medical Services Award."

    Born in Alabama, Phil was educated in the Greensboro school system and the University of Montevallo. He received his commission as an officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1971 and served as a member of the Alabama National Guard from 1971 to 1983. Although he became involved in politics and government early on, most of his professional career involved emergency management at both state and national levels. In 1981, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as FEMA Region IV administrator, responsible for the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He also served as regional administrator under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

    A memorial service will be held on Nov. 4, 2017, 2:00-3:00 p.m., H.M. Patterson & Son-Oglethorpe Hill, 4550 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30319. See complete obituary and other online tributes. IAEM expresses sympathy to Phil's family and friends. 
  • W. R. "Billy" Zwerschke, MBA, CEM, CFM, TEM, 84, passed away on Aug. 24, 2017,  after a battle with cancer. A Lifetime member of IAEM, Billy was a past IAEM Certification Commissioner and served as IAEM President (2000-2001). "Billy served as an emergency manager and an IAEM leader with a rare dedication,” said IAEM CEO Elizabeth Armstrong, MAM, CAE. "The CEM Commission named its Bravo Zulu (BZ) Award after him to recognize his singular impact and honorable service. As a friend for more than 25 years, I know Billy embodied all the best qualities of our profession - selflessness, professionalism, dedication."

IAEM-USA President Lanita Lloyd added, "Personally, I feel very fortunate to have met and served with Billy on the Certification Commission. I fondly remember how he loved the Commission work, and that he adored anything with the IAEM logo on it - I believe he would have worn the logo on every piece of his clothing if it was available. Billy was dedicated to the progress of emergency management. His leadership contributions and encouragement to those who knew and worked with him will long be remembered."

Billy was the CEO of BZ & Associates, providing training in WMD, mass casualty recovery, public safety, flood plain NFIP programs, community affairs, and emergency management. He worked as a FEMA hazard mitigation specialist, and he was an observer/controller of WMD and hurricane exercises for the Texas Division of Emergency Management. He earned a master's degree in business administration with a minor in risk management at Madison University. Billy's volunteer experience included service as deputy fire chief, Port Lavaca Volunteer Fire Department (1953-1980). He worked for Calhoun County as emergency management coordinator from 1985 to 2000. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

The memorial service has been rescheduled. It will take place, with military honors, at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Grace Funeral Chapel, located at 1604 W. Austin St. in Port Lavaca, Texas. An obiturary has been posted online.

IAEM staff and leadership are making contributions to the IAEM Scholarship Fund to honor Billy's memory and invite members and friends to do the same at IAEM members express their sympathy to Billy's family, friend, and colleagues. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Billy’s wife, Sandra Zwerschke at: 502 Arabian Dr, Victoria, Texas 77904.

  • Jonathan Best, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, New York Department of Health, and a former member of IAEM, passed away on July 28, 2017. He previously directed EMS services in New York City (during the Sept. 11 attacks), Westchester County (New York), and Bridgeport. His work in Bridgeport included service during the collapse of the L’Ambiance Plaza on April 24, 1987. He was a former Stratford EMS captain. DPH Commissioner Raul Pino remembered Best as someone who “dedicated his life to protecting the health and safety of the public.” IAEM expresses sympathies to Jon's family, friends, and colleagues.

  • Bill E. Appleby, 69, of Hebron, Kentucky, passed away on June 19, 2017, in Edgewood, Kentucky. He was a member of the Christian Church and an IAEM past president (1998-1999). He also served Boone County as emergency management director. Survivors include his wife, Colleen (Bresnahan) Appleby; son Ed Appleby; daughter Angela Huskey; and an extended family that includes grandchildren, great-grandchildren, two brothers, a sister, and many nieces and nephews. The family encouraged that donations be made in Bill’s memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. An online guestbook is available here. IAEM expresses sympathy to Bill's family, friends, and colleagues.

  • Paul Revere Thomas, Jr., CEM, 80, a long-time member of IAEM, passed away on May 5, 2017, one day before his 81st birthday. A veteran of the U. S. Air Force, Paul was a management consultant for 35 years with the IBM Corporation, specializing in business continuity planning. After retirement, he created marketing graphics for 10 years for Six Flags St. Louis. Paul served as fire chief for two years with the Emergency Services Fire & Rescue in Connecticut and as emergency management director for the City of Kirkwood for 24 years. His electrical engineering education came from the University of Pennsylvania, with graduate studies at Harvard Business School. A Lifetime Certified Emergency Manager, he also held a Master Business Continuity Professional certificate. Paul served on the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) Board for 13 years as vice president and treasurer, as well as three terms as board chairman. He was parliamentarian of IAEM for several years, served as chair of the IAEM-USA Bylaws Committee and as an IAEM-USA Region President, and the association actually got its current name from a suggestion made by Paul in 1997. Paul was survived by his wife, Joan; one daughter, Barbara; two sons, Paul and Scott; and six grandchildren. IAEM expresses sympathies to Paul's family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Matthew James Parker, 53, senior fellow meteorologist at the Savannah River National Laboratory, passed away on Mar. 17, 2017. A memorial service was held on Mar. 24, at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, where he served as elder. He was named a fellow to the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in 2006 and has volunteered for several committee leadership roles with the AMS since the early 1990s. Matt was recently sworn in as president of the AMS in January 2017. His theme for his presidential term and subsequent annual meeting in January 2018 was to be "Communication." Along with communication, he also worked to include early-career scientists, college students, and young people in the field to become involved in the AMS. "Matt was a strong advocate of emergency management and was instrumental in establishing the AMS Emergency Management Committee a couple of years ago," noted Bob Goldhammer, CEM, CBCP, IAEM chaplain. In addition to Matt's wife, Shawntel, he is survived by his parents, John H. and Bernadette Parker, his brothers, John A. Parker (Lynn) and David A. Parker (Jill), and his nieces and nephews, Amber, John A. (Jessica), Adam, Jesse and Clay Parker. IAEM expresses sympathies to Gene's family, friends, and colleagues. Details are posted here.
  • Gene M. Arters, 61, the long-time emergency management director of the Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, City of Norwich, Connecticut, died unexpectedly on Jan. 22, 2017. A Jan. 23 article in the Norwich Bulletin quoted Norwich Fire Department Chief Kenneth Scandariato, who described Gene as "dedicated to the core…When someone like Gene passes away, it affects the entire community. We’re all saddened by it. " Paul Yellen, Plainfield (Connecticut) emergency management director, was quoted as saying that Gene “was always a leader who was active with issues that affected the southeastern part of the state. He understood what it took to protect the citizens of Norwich and the hazards they faced.” A Jan. 23 article in The Day noted that “those who have worked with Arters for decades in preparing for storms [and] responding to storms, the frequent flooding of the Yantic and Shetucket rivers, and major fires that displaced residents, called his death ‘a great loss for the city’ and for the region’s emergency preparedness services.” Gene played a key role in the development of the new Norwich emergency response center. He was a member of IAEM for many years. IAEM expresses sympathies to Gene's family, friends, and colleagues. Calling hours will be held 2:00-5:00 p.m., Jan. 29, at the Woyasz & Son Funeral Home, 141 Central Ave., Norwich, Connecticut. A private family service will be held previously, and burial will be at the family's convenience. Gene's children ask, in the honor and spirit of their father, that you consider paying forward a random act of kindness for someone in his memory. Details are posted here.
  • Dr. Tom Phelan, a visiting professor and lecturer at Hamilton College (NY), associate faculty at Royal Roads University (Canada), and an instructor at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute, passed away on Jan. 17, 2017. He was the author of Emergency Management and Tactical Response Operations: Bridging the Gap. His most recent research projects focused on digital/virtual group processes and concerns with literacy in public preparedness. He worked with FEMA, DMORT, and other international groups on emergency preparedness. He was a past member of IAEM. A memorial service was held on Jan. 20, 2017, at the Hamilton College Chapel. IAEM expresses sympathy to Dr. Phelan’s family, friends, and colleagues. Any notes and cards may be sent to his wife, Professor Catherine Phelan, c/o Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton NY 13323. Details are posted here.
  • Delia “Ann” Allen, 60, who had served as emergency manager for Inter-Mountain Health Care in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was a past president of the Utah Emergency Management Association, passed away on Nov. 17, 2016. Her career at Intermountain Healthcare spanned almost 39 years and included nursing and later Cardiovascular Research at LDS Hospital. Ann then moved to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray where she managed Emergency Planning and Preparedness for the Urban Central Region. Ann completed her LPN at Salt Lake Community College in 1976, a BS in Health Education in 1989 from the University of Utah, and a Masters in Emergency Planning in 2006 from APU. Ann's fellow firefighter/EMTs appointed her as Stansbury Station Chief, and she excelled in instituting higher levels of training for the volunteers. Ann served on boards and committees in Stansbury Park and Tooele County. During her career Ann was a notable member of research teams that were published in national journals and she received numerous awards. IAEM expresses sympathy to Ann’s family, friends, and colleagues. Read complete obituary.
  • Robert C. Bohlmann, CEM, 76, a Lifetime IAEM member, passed away Nov. 17, 2016. The memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. His burial will be family only on another date. The service will be held at St. Mary's Church, 236 Eldridge Rd., Wells, Maine 04090. Complete details are available in the online obituary

    In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations be made in Bob’s memory to: the IAEM Scholarship Foundation, 201 Park Washington Court, Falls Church, VA 22046-4527 (please put "Bob Bohlmann" in memo line) or online at; or to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Attn: Wage Hope My Way, 1500 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90256, or online at Cards of condolence may be sent to the family at the following address: Renata Hawks, c/o Robert Bohlmann, 79 Valley Road, Wells ME 04090.

    IAEM expresses sympathy to his family and friends. Bob will be greatly missed by his IAEM friends and colleagues. "Bob was co-founder of the IAEM Scholarship Program," said Dawn Shiley, IAEM Scholarship Director. "Through his guidance, the program has provided more than 50 scholarships since 2001 and has grown to be a viable program. Bob's vision for the program will be carried on by the Scholarship Commission because of the strong foundation that he created."

    Bob served as a volunteer emergency management director for several communities over a 40-year period, including: Salisbury, CT; Simsbury, CT; State of Vermont Emergency Management Agency; Plymouth, MA; and Wells, ME. Most recently Bob was hired as the emergency management director for York County, Maine, where he served with a high degree of skill, proficiency, and integrity at the county level from 1994 through his retirement in May 2011. Bob led a premier emergency management program, with a great many successes in mitigating the effects of coastal and inland disasters, and in recruiting, cultivating, and growing one of the most outstanding and well-trained volunteer cadres in the United States. He led a highly functional donations management program and administered a pinnacle search-and-rescue volunteer cadre with numerous documented success stories.

    Bob served as adjunct faculty for the Emergency Management Institute (1998-2007), Maine Emergency Management Agency, New Hampshire Fire Academy, and Maine Fire Service Institute. After his retirement as York County EM director, he was a FEMA Disaster Assistance employee, where he continued to continued to maintain currency within the EM profession. He was a highly skilled and sought-after assessor for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), where he served on a number of state and local EM onsite assessor teams for 10 years.

    Bob earned his Certified Emergency Manager credential in 1998 and maintained that credential through the present. He was a long-time, active IAEM member, who served the association in a variety of roles. He was a founder of the IAEM Scholarship Program, a current member of the Scholarship Commission, and a current CEM Commissioner. He also served IAEM in the following capacities: past chair of the Scholarship Commission (8 years), past chair of the U.S. Government Affairs Committee (5 years), past vice chair of the U.S. Membership & Marketing Committee, past vice chair of the U.S. Nominations & Credentials Committee, past sergeant at arms, and member of the U.S. Training & Education Committee. "Bob served IAEM and its members as chair of the U.S. Government Affairs Committee during the critical time that the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) restored the preparedness function and authorities to FEMA," said Martha Braddock, former IAEM-USA policy advisor. "Bob was known by first name by key senators and congressional staff, and he was always eagerly welcomed during Capitol Hill visits. He was a tremendous advocate for the emergency management profession – always knowledgeable and persuasive – and he loved doing it."

    Throughout his emergency management career, Bob maintained a firm commitment to excellence. He frequently offered his advice, skill, and expertise for the benefit of other practitioners, programs, and organizations. In his recommendation for Bob to be named a Lifetime IAEM member, Brian Bovyn, CEM, described him as "a pioneer in the field of emergency management, a gifted mentor to many emergency managers, a transformational visionary leader in the industry and within the IAEM organization, and a true professional who has done a great deal to advance IAEM and the EM field for many years." 

Remembered at Memorial Service, Annual Business Meeting, IAEM 2017 Annual Conference, Nov. 15, 2017

  • Ann Allen, EM, Inter-Mountain Health Care, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Bill Appleby, Former IAEM President, Boone County, KY
  • Gene Arters, Director, Office of Emergency Management, Norwich, CT
  • Jonathan Best, Director, State of CT Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Stratford, NY
  • Bob Bohlmann, EMA Director York County, Wells, ME
  • Alan Brunacini, Chief (Retired), Phoenix Fire Department, Phoenix, AZ
  • Rob Cleveland, EM for Laramie County, Wyoming
  • Charles Dressen, EM Director, Salt Lake Community College, South Jordan, UT
  • Major Phil May, Former Region IV Administrator, FEMA, Atlanta, GA
  • Lois McCoy, President (Retired), National Institute of Urban Search and Rescue, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Matthew Parker, President, American Meteorological Society, Evans, GA
  • Dr. Tom Phelan, Instructor, FEMA EMI, Clinton, NY
  • Marybeth Abernathy Solesbee, Boiling Springs, SC
  • Paul Thomas, Retired, City of Kirkwood, St. Louis, MO
  • William “Billy” Zwerschke, Past IAEM Commissioner and IAEM Past President (2000-2001), Port Lavaca, TX