Merle Olson, design coordinator, retires

Merle Olson

Merle Olson is looking forward to retirement and finally spending time with his wife and family. He has been working since he was in high school, first to help his single mother support her five children, and then to support his own family of six.

Olson, senior engineering associate, retired from Fermilab in December after 26 years of service devoted to the FESS engineering group, which was known as Tevatron Construction when Olson joined the laboratory in 1984.

Just as the name of the department has changed, so has the nature of Olson’s work. He began as a mechanical engineer, part of a large, in-house architectural group. “We did everything structural, electrical and mechanical,” he said.

His from-the-ground-up experience became invaluable later on when in-house work was delegated to outside firms. Olson moved into a project coordinator role; a liaison between the laboratory and the contracted architectural and engineering firms. He admitted he felt a bit intimidated at first, but “it worked out great,” he said.

His former boss, Steve Dixon, agreed.

“Over the years, Merle has transitioned from an excellent mechanical engineer to an outstanding design coordinator,” he said.

“He was excellent at coordinating contractors and vendors to ensure projects kept moving on schedule," said Adam Walters, who worked with Olson on the construction of state-of-the art computer rooms, including the ARRA-funded Data Center upgrade projects in the Feynman Computing Center.

“All of the facility operations staff wishes Merle the best in his retirement and he is greatly missed,” said Walters, department head of facility operations in the Computing Division.

Olson and his wife of 40 years, Sharon, are looking forward to taking walks, traveling and spending time with family, which includes six children, 14 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

— Rita Hoover