Bob Jensen, magnet maker, retires Friday

Bob Jensen at Industrial Building 2. Photo: Reidar Hahn.

Bob Jensen has built nearly every type of magnet used in Fermilab’s accelerators. But the senior operations specialist will soon have time to focus on a different type of handiwork. He retires Friday after more than 42 years.

Jensen, who sports a handlebar mustache and a hearty laugh, said the things he’ll remember most about Fermilab are his colleagues and always being challenged. He’ll also miss the laboratory’s can-do culture, which he said has existed from the beginning.

“One sweltering summer night I was working late in Lab 6 to finish a Booster magnet. Robert Wilson walked in and he knew me by name,” Jensen said. “I had never met him.”

Jensen, who has ID number 315, joined the laboratory in November 1968 after time in the Navy. Jensen worked the lab’s official groundbreaking, and then spent his early days as a lab assistant learning how to build magnets for various accelerators. During his career, Jensen has built and worked on magnets for the Main Ring, Booster, Recycler, Meson and Tevatron, among others.

“There have been quite a few different magnets that I’ve put my hands on or built,” Jensen said. “We must have done something right for the magnets to run this well for so long.” Because of his expertise, Jensen was eventually asked to work on travelers – documents that travel with the magnets and contain necessary information for building them and assessing their quality.

Jamie Blowers, Jensen’s manager in the Technical Division’s Quality & Materials Department for about 10 years, said Jensen is a great employee who will be extraordinarily missed.

“He’s been all over the laboratory and knows a lot about what worked and what didn’t,” Blowers said. “A lot will be lost when he leaves. We’ll adapt, but we won’t be able to fill his shoes.”

A 1980s photo of Bob Jensen in his office. Photo provided by TJ Gardner.

TJ Gardner, a close colleague of Jensen’s since they first shared an office in the mid-1980s, said he’s always appreciated Jensen’s sense of humor and dependability. He’s a logical and results-oriented guy, Gardner said.

“He takes a lot of pride in what he does and he has never hesitated to jump in and help get things done,” Gardner said. “When I was building my house Bob regularly showed up with a hammer in hand.”

After retiring Jensen plans work on his hobbies – gardening and restoring old John Deere tractors. He attributes these interests to growing up on a farm.

“I have a whole barn full of rust that I’d like to put green paint on,” Jensen said.

A cake reception for Jensen will take place from 2-4 p.m. today on the main floor of the Industrial Center Building.

Rhianna Wisniewski