Published in The Washington Post on Mar. 29, 2019
ALLAN BAIN TANNER
ALLAN BAIN TANNER (Age 88) Of Washington, DC
died at home on March 26, 2019 of complications of
He was the husband of Jo Ann P. Tanner. A nuclear
geophysicist internationally recognized for his work,
he was a specialist in radon research. He published and
spoke at international conferences on the natural radiation environment, radon, X-ray
fluorescence, and borehole neutron activation analysis. He was employed for thirty-eight
years by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Allan was the author of two classic reviews on radon and a comprehensive bibliography
of literature on radon migration in the ground. For five years he served as a member of
the Committee on Interagency Radiation Research and Policy Coordination of the
President's Office of Science and Technology.
He was an associate editor of the scientific journals "Nuclear Geophysics" and "Health
Physics." Allan was a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, the Society of
the Sigma Xi, the Geochemical Society, the Washington Geological Society, the
American Geophysical Union and the Potomac Geophysical Society, and was listed in
American Men and Women of Science.
After his retirement from the USGS, he became a consultant on radon migration for the
Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Born May 27, 1930 in New York City, the son of Margaret and Edward Tanner, he moved
as a child to Washington, DC and at age 11 to a dude ranch owned by his grandparents
near Steamboat, NV. There he rode horses, milked cows, and attended the one-room
Brown School. He was a graduate of Western High School (1949) in DC and the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and did graduate work at the University of Utah.
During college, he was manager of MIT's 1951 national championship rifle team and
captain of the 1952 team. He was named to the 1951 First All-American Team and to the
1950 and 1952 second teams. During the Korean War, he served as a lieutenant in the
Allan's grandfather was Dr. H. Foster Bain, an internationally recognized mining geologist
and a director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines. His grandmother was Mary Wright Bain, an
early aviatrix and the "First Flying Grandmother." His mother was also an aviatrix and a
member of the Ninety-Nines flying club that included Amelia Earhart. An outdoorsman,
hiker, skier, and sailor, Allan was an early proponent of conserving the environment. A
longtime volunteer for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Allan served on its Council
and as head of the Cabin Reservations system for 21 years. He was also a charter
member and volunteer for the Northwest Neighbors Village in DC.
Allan is survived by three sons, Evan B. Tanner of Sydney, Australia, Edward A. Tanner of
Hong Kong, and Robert A. Tanner of Reno, NV; a sister, Karen Wright of Grass Valley,
CA; a brother, Jerard Tanner of Mill Valley, CA; three grandchildren, a nephew and five
A Visitation for Allan will be held at the Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home, Bethesda,
MD, on Saturday, March 30, at 9 a.m., followed by a Service at 10 a.m.
Memorial contributions can be made to Northwest Neighbors Village, Washington, DC.