Al Legan retires after 42 years at Fermilab

There will be a farewell party for Al Legan today at 11:30 at Riverview Banquets in Aurora.

When Al Legan arrived at Fermilab 42 years ago, most of the laboratory’s business was conducted out of the houses that had made up the small farming town of Weston. He retires on Oct. 7.

Legan was unemployed and going to night school when he saw a newspaper ad indicating the laboratory was hiring. He drove up from Joliet to check it out.

“There was really nothing here yet,” Legan recalled. “It was just a bunch of holes in the ground.”

He was hired as a machinist and has since worked as a technician and in various other positions. He currently holds a position in engineering in the Accelerator Controls Department of the Accelerator Division.

Legan thought he would work at the laboratory for about five years. He was wrong.

“There was so much growth, it turned out to be a lifetime,” he said. “I could not have fallen into anything better.”

With cutting-edge experiments and some of the world’s top scientists, Fermilab has always been an interesting place to work.

“There’s a lot of brain power you can tap into,” Legan said.

But Legan’s colleagues have also often tapped into his knowledge and expertise and he will be missed after he retires.

“He’s one of those guys when you have a problem he’s more than happy to help you find the answer,” said Sharon Lackey, Legan’s supervisor. “He’s always there to help.”

Lackey said when Legan moved to the Accelerator Controls Department more than a decade ago, he was filling the position of another employee who had been highly skilled and knowledgeable about the fire systems. Legan stepped into the job and the transition was seamless.

Legan not only worked well, he also bowled well. He was the driving force behind the Fermi bowling team for years and many of his colleagues, including Lackey, have played with him over the years.

“I’ll still be bowling,” said Legan, who took up the game back in high school. He has already scouted out the leagues near Mesquite, Nev., where he plans to move with his wife.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Legan said, noting that if they ever get homesick for snow they can take a short drive to the mountains.

Victoria Pierce