April 28, 2022

In Memoriam: John Tiffany

By Don Weekes, Jack Springston, David Abrams, Chin Yang, and Jack Caravanos

John Tiffany, a past chair of AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Committee, passed away on April 19, 2022, from mesothelioma. He had worked in an asbestos floor tile factory when in high school. John was a pioneer in the indoor air quality (IAQ) field and a long-term volunteer for the AIHA IEQ Committee, serving as chair in 1994-95. For twenty-one years, John and his business partner, Howard Bader, ran Tiffany-Bader Environmental (TBE), a successful consultancy specializing in IAQ as well as mold, asbestos, and other indoor contaminants. John also served as Vice President – Practice for the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ).

John received a BS in chemistry from The City College of New York and an MS in environmental and occupational health at Hunter College. He was motivated to enter the field of industrial hygiene in part by his experiences while working at the tile factory. His work started in asbestos management and migrated into IAQ.

John and Howard formed Tiffany-Bader Environmental Inc. in 1991. Their combined expertise, John’s in industrial hygiene and Howard’s in engineering and building science, allowed them to provide uniquely powerful expertise when looking at complex IAQ problems.

As an adjunct professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Rutgers University Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), John taught thousands of students about HVAC as well as mold, asbestos, lead, and other indoor air contaminants. John was an inspiration for so many in this field. He was also a great colleague with terrific stories that made us all laugh and enjoy his company. His knowledge of the field and his ability to teach and communicate resulted in an invitation to start an IAQ training program, the Mid Atlantic Environmental Resource Center, in Philadelphia. John served as the technical director of this EPA-sponsored program. He was also involved in the EPA Tools for School program, traveling across the country to review and advise on programs.

John’s life experiences informed his professional path from asbestos worker to EHS student, EHS instructor, adjunct professor, and program director. He started as a student and finished teaching and mentoring so many professionals in the then-new field of IAQ, including his master’s program advisor.

John met his first wife, Doris (Dory), while working at EOHSI. They were married for almost four years until Doris passed away of brain cancer. John met Jan Li (Jany), his second spouse, a few years later. They married on Boxing Day (December 26) in 2004 and moved to Princeton, New Jersey.

When John retired in 2012, he and Jany moved to British Columbia, where they became permanent residents and then citizens of Canada. John was always a little amused that he was a descendant of an early settler who came to Massachusetts in 1660 and that he was a distant relative of the family that runs the Tiffany & Co. jewelry retailer.

John managed the property of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria for seven years. In that time, he found tenants for the three under-utilized buildings on the church's rural property. Thanks to John, a preschool now rents the church’s Sunday school five days a week from September through June. With John’s urging, the church retrofitted the school’s washrooms with touch toilets and sinks, and installed HEPA filter fans in the assembly rooms.

Colleagues remember John as always ready to share expertise and ideas. His friendly nature, deep understanding of IAQ, and wonderful communication skills inspired many to adopt IAQ as a field of expertise. His kindness, good nature, and ability to enjoy life inspired many to call him a friend.

John will be missed, and his memory will be a blessing to those who knew him.

The authors thank members of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria for sharing their reminiscences of John Tiffany.