TJ Gardner retires after nearly 40 years

TJ Gardner relaxes in 2019.

TJ Gardner, badge ID 04569, arrived for work at Fermilab on Feb. 25, 1980, at the age of 19. Fermilab has been his entire career for nearly 40 years.

Now he is retiring. His last working day is Thursday, Dec. 19.

Gardner was hired to help in the construction of the Tevatron dipole collared coil assemblies in Industrial Building 3. In the following two years, he had touched nearly a quarter of all the magnets built for the collider. He built quad collared coils and participated in the quality assurance of those assemblies. He worked briefly in the Industrial Building Complex stockroom, working on kit lists that issue parts to specific magnets. In 1983, he was promoted to requisitioning expediter and ordered magnet parts for the Antiproton Source construction, along with taking on a number of other projects.

It’s day 1 at Fermilab for TJ Gardner. Photo: LaDaune Trierweiler

Just prior to Fermilab’s participation in the Superconducting Super Collider dipole magnet R&D, Gardner was asked to join the Superconducting Magnet Group under John Carson III managing project coordination and control. He performed in that role for the next 30 years through multiple reorganizations and assignments. He has worked on projects for Fermilab, Argonne, Jefferson lab, Brookhaven and SLAC, along with international projects.

“If I may mix metaphors,” said Dave Harding, Gardner’s supervisor for the last few years. “He has been the glue that holds the conventional magnet work together and also the oil that has kept things running smoothly. His cross-divisional relationships have been valuable. He will be missed.”

Gardner has grown of his Fermilab family, too.

“Having grown up in Aurora, I have always been humbled working with the many scientist and engineers from around the globe,” Gardner said. “I fully understand that Fermilab has always been a place to aspire to work. The many friends and their families I have gotten to know have become my extended family.”

But now it is time to move on, he says. He and his wife Sue have purchased a property in northwest Illinois at a lake resort known as Apple Canyon Lake and plan to build their next home there.

“My deepest thanks to all of my colleagues,” he said. “I will try to remain ‘simply mah-velous’!”

Join Gardner on Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the new addition behind the Industrial Center Building for cake and coffee.