PPD Electrical Engineering Department Head Bob DeMaat passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 13 while on vacation in Colorado.
“It’s hard to capture all the things Bob represented,” Paul Czarapata, DeMaat’s former supervisor and longtime friend, said. “He had an impact on so many different people, yet he was also one of the guys.”
Czarapata, who is a former EE department head, hired DeMaat in January of 1986 and made him the department deputy five years later.
“He had a keen attention to detail. He was always gracious and gave guidance without strong-arming,” Czarapata said. “He was a gentleman’s gentleman.”
DeMaat was amiable, passionate and perceptive – three qualities that carried him far at Fermilab and in life.
“Bob was not striving for perfection because that indicates you are done. Bob was always striving to do the best that could be done,” Czarapata remembered from DeMaat’s eulogy.
During his time at Fermilab, DeMaat held several managerial positions in the Electrical Engineering Department and coordinated with engineers on a variety of experiments.
“At one point, Bob was the Associate Head of EED, Project Electrical Engineer for MINERvA and the Deputy Project Manager for MINERvA, all at the same time,” said Peter Wilson, who is the PPD associate head for Engineering and worked with DeMaat since 1998. “He was very passionate, but never rigid. He had a youthful attitude.”
At the time of his death, DeMaat was managing the electrical engineering for the LBNE liquid-argon detector.
Outside of his work at Fermilab, DeMaat had an active personal life. He was a pilot, sky diver, skier, musician, golfer, biker as well as a husband and a friend to many.
“When I first came to Fermilab, my English was not very good,” Demaat’s friend Mark Kozlovsky from EED said. “Bob was very helpful. He would often come to my office for small talk and patiently listen to my responses in broken English. Very soon we became close friends.”
Even though Kozlovsky and DeMaat both worked in the same department, they never discussed work in their 22-year-long friendship.
“At work he was my boss –I was an engineer and he was in management. Outside of work we were friends. Our families would get together for meals and travel together. We would vacation at the beach and Bob would try windsurfing. As I never mastered it, we would go snorkeling instead,” Kozlovsky said.
Marcus Larwill from PPD and EED worked with DeMaat for a number of years and remembered his passion for music.
“At Christmas parties, Bob would entertain us by playing his guitar. He was in a band and they play a wide variety of music,” Larwill said.
DeMaat touched many people during his 24 years at Fermilab and will leave a legacy of his work ethic and attitude toward life.
“Bob’s style and approach will carry though the EE department,” Czarapata said. “I know I’m going to miss the guy.”