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 Obituary | Larry Herbert Royster | 1936–2019
Larry Herbert Royster was born on September 22, 1936, in Durham County, NC, and passed away on March 18, 2019, in Raleigh, NC. He was a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at North Carolina State Uni- versity (NCSU; Raleigh); a Fellow of the Acoustical
Society of America (ASA) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA); a past chair of the noise com- mittees of both of those associations; and a recipient of the
ASA Silver Medal in Noise, the AIHA Borden Award, and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) Outstanding Hearing Conservationist Award.
Royster attained a strong grounding in theoretical and experimental analysis while investigating aerodynamic flut- ter models and advanced underwater acoustic transducers for North American Aviation (Royster, 1969). He earned his PhD at NCSU and remained there, teaching for 34 years.
Although comfortable with theoretical acoustics, Royster’s passions were practical noise and vibration control, hearing conservation, and teaching.
Royster first assisted the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) and later the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in developing noise and hearing conservation regulations. He created the noise pro- gram for the NCDOL, training their inspectors, calibrating their instruments, and establishing and chairing the NCDOL OSHA Advisory Council. He pioneered a unique enforcement concept by which industries with documented effective safety programs, even if in exceedance of permissible noise levels, could avoid citations by contributing their audiometric data to the NCDOL for analyses. Regarding the federal OSHA, Royster testified at the hearings in Washington, DC, in the 1970s when the Hearing Conservation Amendment was being hashed out; as a measure of the importance of his contribu- tions, he was cited 23 times in the original and subsequent final version of the rule.
Two of Royster’s principal contributions in hearing conser- vation pertained to describing the “real world” of hearing
conservation in industry and evaluating the true effective- ness of hearing conservation programs. He led a 4-year-long research project in which he visited and interviewed hear- ing protection issuers who directly interfaced with workers at 213 sites across the United States. This unique study pro- vided valuable insight into American hearing conservation circa 1980 (Royster and Royster, 1990). His other key contri- bution was developing objective methods of evaluating the adequacy of hearing conservation programs using group audiometric data for employees, including the creation of appropriate reference and control databases (Royster et al., 1980).
Royster loved stimulating “students” to solve real-world problems as evidenced by his authorship of the AIHA Noise-
Vibration Problem-Solution Workbook, a companion to the highly regarded AIHA Noise Manual for which he was an editor of both the fourth and fifth editions. Besides these efforts, Royster published numerous scientific papers, book chapters, and technical reports.
After retirement, Royster studied widely divergent topics, reaching his goal in 2013 of reading more than 500 books postretirement, and pursued new hobbies in amateur radio, golf, and gardening. He is survived by his dear wife of 41 years, Julia Doswell Royster.
Selected Publications by Larry H. Royster
Royster, L. H. (1969). The flextensional underwater acoustic transducer. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 45(3), 671-682.
Royster, L. H., and Royster, J. D. (1990). Important elements and charac- teristics of hearing conservation programs and determination of their effectiveness. Environment International Journal 16, 339-352.
Royster, L. H., Royster, J. D., and Berger, E. H. (1982). Guidelines for devel- oping an effective hearing conservation program. Sound and Vibration 16(1), 22-25.
Royster, L. H., Royster, J. D., and Cecich, T. F. (1984). An evaluation of the effectiveness of three hearing protection devices at an industrial facility with a TWA of 107 dB. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 76(2), 485-497.
Royster, L. H., Royster, J. D., and Thomas, W. G. (1980). Representative hearing levels by race and sex in North Carolina industry. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 68(2), 551-566.
Written by:
Elliott H. Berger
Email: 221 Olde Mill Cove, Indianapolis, IN
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