The National Board announces with deep sadness the October 25 passing of retired Executive Director Donald Tanner. He was 71.
Mr. Tanner was elected executive director of The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors by the membership on March 13, 2001. He was the seventh executive director to head the internationally recognized safety organization since its formation in 1919.
A native of Erin, Tennessee, Mr. Tanner’s 54-year career included 22 years of service in the Navy, 14 years as a state inspector, 11 years as chief inspector, 5 years as National Board Chairman of the Board, and 7 ½ years as executive director.
The former Tennessee chief boiler inspector assumed the role of executive director April 1, 2001, following the retirement of Albert Justin.
Mr. Tanner joined the US Navy at the age of 17. He retired in 1976 having achieved the rank of chief boiler technician. That same year, he accepted a position as field inspector with the state of Tennessee. In 1990, he was named chief boiler inspector and became a member of the National Board.
The Tennessee state official served as member-at-large on the National Board Board of Trustees from 1993 until his election as chairman in May of 1996. Reelected chairman in 1999, Mr. Tanner resigned from the Board of Trustees in January of 2001before assuming the organization’s top administrative position.
During his term as Executive Director, the Tennessee native affected a number of noteworthy changes at the National Board, including: metrification and expansion of the National Board Inspection Code; increasing NBIC Committee size and agenda; initiating Pre-Commission Examination courses for aspiring inspectors; resurrecting the popular Synopsis of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Laws, Rules, and Regulations; spearheading passage of South Carolina’s first boiler safety law; pioneering a new National Board era of electronic communications from Web-based training to the revolutionary NBIC on flash drive; launching construction of the new Inspection Training Center; establishing a new record for National Board membership (64); and introducing the “NB” stamp.
“Mr. Tanner’s tenure as executive Director was a defining era for the National Board,” explains Acting National Board Executive Director Dick Allison. “He will be forever remembered for his countless contributions to an organization he loved. But perhaps more important, he will remain in our hearts as a generous and compassionate leader who established an enduring foundation of trust and professionalism, both for National Board membership and staff. We shall miss his resolve, his vision, and values.”
Mr. Tanner was active as a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), serving on the organization’s Main Committee. He was also a member of the Canadian Standards Association, and an associate member of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association.
Mr. Tanner possessed all National Board endorsements with the exception of the “C” (Nuclear Concrete Construction). He held commissioned inspector number 8253.
Mr. Tanner is survived by his wife Geraldine, three grown children, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter, two sisters, and a brother.