Butch Hartman retires after 40 years at Fermilab

Butch Hartman

Fermilab’s Butch Hartman has been with the lab for four decades, and while his section has undergone a number of name changes — Safety Section, ESH, ESH&Q — his work ethic, diligence and appreciation for the lab’s mission has remained constant.

Now Hartman is retiring. His last day at the lab is May 31.

“I have met and worked with some amazing people and projects in my time here,” Hartman said.

Hartman started as a technician II in the Safety Section’s Radiation Physics Instrumentation Maintenance and Calibration (IMAC) Team, repairing and calibrating portable radiation instrumentation. Less than two years later, he was promoted to senior technician to lead the IMAC Team (now the Instrumentation Team) and two other technicians. During that time, he created uniform calibration procedures and worksheets so that the lab would be in compliance with relevant standards. A few years later, as the need for instrumentation increased, the team grew. He was promoted to technical specialist and technical supervisor.

His group was a creative one. The Instrumentation Team was once asked to develop a new X-ray instrument. They created a functional concept using scavenged electronics from another instrument, and they made an ion chamber from a 100-pack CD case. Over the next several months, the team worked in harmony to create a more sensitive ion chamber (one that was not made from CD cases) and a new compact enclosure. The completed instrument, named FOX (Fermilab Original X-ray), is now used to test cryomodules here and at Jefferson Lab in Virginia.

Hartman has been just as involved in promoting the laboratory’s mission as he has in developing instrumentation for fundamental science. He has participated in three Fermilab open houses — in 1983, 1987 and 2017.

“I enjoyed meeting and talking with people at the events and was especially impressed with the questions and enthusiasm of the grade school and high school students,” Hartman said.

“Butch has collected many hats in his life, and he wears them well, too: leader, follower; mentor, student; co-worker, friend; son, father, grandfather, husband. He loves them all passionately,” said Mark Zientarski, ESH&Q Instrumentation Team lead and Hartman’s supervisor.

Hartman will stay in the area for the next several years and perhaps do some snowbirding during the winter months. One way he plans to stay busy is to continue to recondition coin-operated devices, such as pinball machines, a hobby he’s enjoyed for 25 years.

“I’m thankful to be a part of this world-class lab,” Hartman said.

A retirement lunch is scheduled for Thursday, May 24, at the Turners Club in Aurora. Contact Mark Zientarski at x8484 or markz@fnal.gov to RSVP and for details.