Note: This story was last updated at 11:10 a.m. July 19.
Joe Lenhard, a former U.S. Department of Energy research director and founder of the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee, died Friday of COVID-19, a family member said. He was 91.
Lenhard died Friday evening at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, his daughter Andrea Lenhard said in a Facebook post.
My father, Joseph Lenhard, died Friday evening at MMC of Covid. He went quickly. Rest in peace, Daddy. You were always my hero.Posted by Andie Lenhard on Friday, July 17, 2020
Lenhard was a research director for the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge. He had oversight of DOE research activities and served as the federal contracting officer for major federal facilities in the city, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, according to his LinkedIn page. He worked for DOE for about 32 years, from 1957 to 1989.
Lenhard served as president of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce in 1992, and he was chair of the East Tennessee Economic Council in 1993 and 1994.
He helped found CROET in 1994, and he was the founding chairman. CROET helps find ways to re-use former federal property, not just real estate but also equipment and other federal assets. A tribute to Lenhard’s service is noted on a plaque in the Horizon Center Industrial Park in west Oak Ridge.
His daughter Andrea said her father loved the natural world, and she became a biologist and veterinarian because of him. Her father used to take them on long rambles in the woods, Andrea said, and he would pick up animals like snakes and frogs and tell the children what he knew about them.
“He loved nature, and that was very infectious,” she said.
Andrea said Oak Ridge was very important to her father.
“He always wanted to promote Oak Ridge and take care of Oak Ridge,” she said. “He was very devoted to the city.”
Lenhard could often be found walking in local grocery stores. He was very conscious of his health, Andrea said, and he would walk every day at stores that included Walmart, Kroger, and Food City. He would sometimes stop to talk to people, including an Oak Ridge Today reporter.
Andrea said her father was a lot of fun, full of life, and he loved everybody.
She recalled the trips her family used to take to Norris Lake on weekends when she was a child—playing in the water, climbing trees, telling jokes—and she said her father spent as much time as he could with his grandchildren as well.
A statement from the family of Lenhard’s daughter Michele said Joe Lenhard was very supportive of higher education.
“He gave substantial sums of money to the University of Tennessee and Roane State Community College,” the statement said. “Roane State dedicated a room to Joseph Lenhard for his outstanding contributions. Joe came from an economically disproportionate background and saw the benefit of higher education. He wanted to provide educational opportunity for the young people of East Tennessee.”[Read more…]