Scientist, Compassionate Water Defender Dr. Ben Stout Passes

Dr. Ben Stout at the Hobet 21 mountaintop removal site on July 20, 2007. He, Cindy Rank, Mary Ellen Cassidy, Vivian Stockman and others were traveling with a film crew, for the documentary that would become “The Last Mountain.” Ben was moved to tears that day as he considered the plight of people living near mountaintop removal coal mines and coal slurry injection sites. Photo by Vivian Stockman.

OVEC extends our deepest sympathy to the family of Dr. Ben Stout, who passed away the morning of August 3, 2018. We hope they can take some comfort in knowing so many West Virginians join with them in grieving his passing. We are filled with deep gratitude for his lifetime of work on behalf of the people and waters of West Virginia.

From mountaintop removal coal mining, to longwall coal mining, to coal sludge impoundments, to coal slurry injection, to coal fly ash impoundments, to the MCHM water crisis, to fracking activity and wastes, Ben was there, testing the waters, backing up what the people were saying with scientific evidence, and always genuinely caring for the health and safety of the people whose waters he tested.

We were so fortunate to have had Ben as a long-time ally of OVEC, and we are heartbroken at his passing. 

We only knew one aspect of Ben’s work. He was a professor at Wheeling Jesuit University and no doubt touched the hearts and lives of many students and faculty there,

When she learned the sad news this morning, Janet Keating, OVEC’s retired executive director, wrote, “He was a rare scientist who cared deeply about people and his work.” Read Janet’s remembrance of Ben here.

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy mining chairwoman Cindy Rank sent this note to Highlands’ board members, and shared it with OVEC:

Sad news this morning as long time friend, Conservancy member, activist and teacher Ben Stout died.  

His enthusiasm for life and his love of our fresh water resources and all the critters who live in those streams invigorated and inspired all who knew him. 

His determination to share his knowledge and expertise in support of communities harmed by polluting industries was boundless.

He gave unselfishly of his time, energy, knowledge and skills to protect the environment and the goodness of the world around us.

He will be missed.

Thank you Ben, for your work, your ways, and your love for our state and its people.

Ben at the site of a burning underground coal seam in Mingo County. On this day, we were traveling with a film crew for what would become the documentary “Burning the Future.” When we were contacted by journalists about our members and our work, one of the persons we almost always mentioned was Ben. He really would rather never have done any of his work on camera, but we pestered him so often, sometimes he said yes to joining us in the field, especially if it meant another chance to meet up with people whose water he has tested. Photo by VS.

Updated: Aug 5, 2018 — 8:29 am

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  1. A life well spent.

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