It was a high school teacher in Georgia who prompted Wayne Waldon to consider a career in science. More than 40 years after that conversation, Waldon retired from the Mechanical Department of CDF operations at Fermilab on Oct. 7.
“My high school teacher junior and senior year said I should go further in physics,” Waldon said.
He took his teacher’s advice and studied physics at Clark College in Atlanta. It was there he first heard about Fermilab from a recruiter visiting colleges.
In 1972, he came to the laboratory to work for the summer. He liked what he saw and forged some friendships and connections in the community. The next year, he became a permanent employee. Wilson Hall was not yet completed and the personnel offices were still located in a farmhouse.
“That first year I thought I would freeze to death,” said Waldon, who, after 38 years at Fermilab, still has a hint of a southern accent.
He worked on a variety of projects over nearly four decades, and most recently worked in the Mechanical Department of CDF operations handling the electrical and electronic controls for the process systems.
“He’s been very instrumental in setting up and maintaining the systems,” said Bill Noe, who worked and supervised Waldon at two different times during their careers at Fermilab.
Noe added that Waldon is very knowledgeable, organized and good at his job.
“He keeps all of the records for all the controls,” Noe said. “And there are a lot of wires here.”
But it is his easy-going and accommodating nature that will be missed on a daily basis.
“He’s just a great guy,” Noe said.
Waldon has worked with some great people from all over the world and remains friends with many of them. Looking back, he is surprised that 38 years have passed since he arrived at Fermilab as a young college graduate.
“I thought I’d be there about 10 years and move on. But I didn’t,” he said.
Now that he is retired, Waldon said he and his wife may do some traveling and will spend time with their grandchildren.
Although they plan to stay in their Sugar Grove home, Waldon said a move back south to where the winters are warmer is a possibility in a few years.