Fresh out of high school and newly wed, Pat Oleck went to work for Fermilab at the age of 18 when the lab itself was only just getting off the ground, in 1968. Almost 45 years later, Oleck, who lays claim to one of the lowest active employee ID numbers at Fermilab — number 256 — is retiring. Her last day is Friday.
In her first two years at the lab, Oleck worked in the Director’s Office of Planning and Scheduling in Oak Brook. She helped pack up the lab for its move to what was then the Village of Weston, now the Fermilab Village. From 1970-71, she worked for the Contracts Department. After taking some time away from the lab (her husband was drafted into the United States Army), she was placed at Fermilab as a Kelly girl in 1973 and rehired permanently in 1975 as part of the Theory Department.
“Fermilab raised me,” Oleck said about her first years here.
Her co-workers were her family, she said. Directly after their Saturday wedding reception, she and her husband Andrew drove to Fermilab as he was to begin working at the lab the following Monday. On his first scheduled day of work, they had a car accident. Oleck’s lab friends came swiftly to their side, setting them up in a hotel and driving them to and from work every day until they secured a replacement car.
Her co-workers value Oleck as highly as she regards them.
“Pat has had such an interesting variety of jobs during her time here, and she did each one with a high level of ability and dedication, mixed with a wonderful, fun sense of humor,” said the Directorate’s Sue Grommes.
Indeed, Oleck’s career at Fermilab could be considered a tour of the lab organization. She worked for the Theory Department until 1985, when she transferred to the Office of Research and Technology Applications and Fermilab Industrial Affiliates. After a decade there, she spent another 10 years as a foreign-travel specialist in the Directorate. Since 2006, she has served as assistant to the Chief Financial Officer.
After she leaves Fermilab, Oleck and her husband will travel and spend more time with their grandchildren. A lifelong quilter, Oleck will continue to work on her craft, some of the fruits of which have been exhibited in the Fermilab Art Gallery. She’ll also continue her church volunteer work. Perhaps most significantly, Oleck will “sleep in every day” during retirement, she says.
“Ethel here is sure going to miss my Lucy,” Grommes said.
Please join the Finance Section in saying good-bye to Oleck tomorrow, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. on the 15th-floor south crossover.
—Cindy Conger, Finance Section