Dr. William Keene, Oregon’s senior state epidemiologist, died Sunday, Dec. 1, The Oregonian newspaper reported. Keene was admitted to a Portland hospital two weeks earlier for acute pancreatitis. For the past two decades, the nationally known food detective kept the Oregon Public Health Division at the top of a short list of states known for being able to quickly solve outbreaks of foodborne disease. In a profile published in The Oregonian in 2010, colleagues called Keene everything from “one of the food safety heroes in the U.S.” to “zealous, energetic, dedicated and diligent.” Keene’s office did double duty as a museum of foodborne illness outbreaks, with shelves containing the packages that once held contaminated Dole spinach, Peter Pan peanut butter, Nestlé Toll House cookies and many others. His personal license plate was Oregon O157:H7, the deadliest strain of E. coli. Keene, 56, grew up in Seattle, where his father was an accountant for Boeing and his mother was a homemaker. He is a 1977 graduate of Yale University, with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. He spent two years in India and Pakistan studying rhesus monkeys. Returning to the states, he became interested in parasites while working as a lab technician at the University of California at San Francisco. His interest in parasites led Keene back to graduate school, first at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and then at the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated in 1989 with a master’s in public health and a doctorate in microbiology. He had worked as Oregon’s top food detective ever since. Food Safety News Publisher Bill Marler said the two states that almost always solve their foodborne illness outbreaks are Minnesota and Oregon. “Minnesota has Team Diarrhea. Oregon just had Bill, and that was enough,” he said, adding, “Bill Keene will be missed.” Survivors include his wife, Elise Gautier, brother David Keene, sisters Beverly Keene and Pam Keene, along with nieces and nephews.