Upbeat personality helped Pfund help laboratory

Phil Pfund’s office at the Machine Shop in the village offered a scenic, wooded view. Photo: Tona Kunz

In the summer of 1998, when Philip Pfund left his position with the Ohio-based Babcock & Wilcox Company for an opportunity to become project engineer for the U.S. Large Hadron Collider Accelerator Project, he didn’t want to be “too hasty” in uprooting his family.

Thus began what Pfund humorously refers to as his hobby of the past 12 years: commuting from North Canton, Ohio to Fermilab.

“A week became a month, a month became a year, a year became a decade,” Pfund said. He and his wife would end up taking turns flying back and forth between their Ohio home and a townhouse near the Batavia facility. Pfund also flew often for work to CERN and Berkeley and Brookhaven national laboratories.

His retirement this month means he will finally have just one place to call home.

Not everyone could handle a life of nearly constant commuting, but Pfund’s enthusiasm and upbeat character proved to be real assets for such a lifestyle.

Thomas Nicol, who worked with Pfund on the LHC project, fondly recalls traveling with him.

“What I really appreciated about Phil was his enthusiasm for whatever we did, whether it was crawling around the CERN tunnel looking at magnets, getting lost on a snow-covered gravel road somewhere in the Jura Mountains or standing on top of the Aguille du Midi in the French Alps, he always worked hard, was always upbeat, always enjoying himself, and always a friend.”

James Strait, former U.S.LHC project manager, said he especially valued Pfund’s steady hand and sense of humor, which he credits for helping the group “get through many crises with our mental health intact.”

Pfund carried those traits to the Machine Shop Department when he took it over as manager nearly three years ago.

Pfund’s boss there, Dave Harding, said Pfund’s analytical approach as an engineer, calm demeanor and forceful advocacy for the people in his department was exactly what was needed.

While there Pfund also contributed to superconducting radio-frequency cavity work at the New Muon Laboratory, developed the Project X cryomodule production plan and served on various cryogenic safety committees.

While he intends to make Ohio his permanent home base, Pfund most likely has more traveling in his future. His wife retired last June, and now, Pfund said they will set out to “figure out what retirees do.” Their daughters have already started giving them travel ideas.

With two daughters and five grandchildren spread between Minnesota and Texas, Pfund said he and his wife will most likely be found commuting along the length of Interstate 35 on a regular basis.

–Rita Hoover