John Reid retires after 5 decades at Fermilab

A man with a red sweater works with an oscilloscope

John Reid

After 50 years of dedicated service to Fermilab, John Reid, head of the RF Department, is retiring. You can wish him well during a Zoom meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29.

Reid joined Fermilab in 1971 after working on site as a contractor for a year. He started working in Lab 3 in the Village as systems were being designed for the original accelerator complex. He has been a member of the RF Department virtually nonstop since that time. Throughout his career, when projects needed high-power RF, his name would pop to the surface. In every corner of the lab, from today’s new projects like PIP2IT to the Booster, one of the oldest accelerators at Fermilab, Reid’s influence and designs are everywhere.

Reid said that when he came to the lab, he “only expected to stay for a few years.” When he was introduced to all the branches of engineering and science in which he would work, however, he said he realized he would never have this type of varied career in industry. His normal job had him working with high-voltage, high-current modulators, fluid dynamics, RF cavity design, material sciences and high-vacuum systems, to name a few.

Colleagues speak well of Reid and of his contributions to the lab. Howie Pfeffer of the EE Support Department recalled working with Reid on the upgrade of the Booster anode power supplies.

“John’s knowledge of high-voltage, high-power rectifier systems was equal to my department’s,” Pfeffer said, “and this was our department’s specialty.”

Pfeffer also mentioned Reid’s specialty in high-level RF power systems. “Anyone who has attended the 9 a.m. meetings have heard him describe problems in a variety of RF systems and say that he would be looking into them. And then there would be no more problems.”

“Here within the Accelerator Division, we need hands-on engineers not only to teach and guide, but also to see what is going on behind the scenes in the field,” said Bob Scala, member of the RF department, remembering some of Reid’s professional qualities. “John Reid is one of those engineers: He started out as an electronic technician and worked his way up the engineering ranks. He has been where the technical staff is daily. That is a plus for any department.”

Deputy Chief Engineer/Associate Division Head Paul Czarapata said, “I will add that I have worked with John for 25 years and respect him as one of the most consummate engineers I have ever known. I will miss our few minutes in the morning where we discuss the technical problems that John is facing and share a few laughs. I know I can safely say that all Fermilab staff who have worked with John wish him a long and happy retirement.”