Chris Kelly to Retire – Sept. 29

After 43 years of service at Fermilab, Chris Kelly is retiring on Sept. 29.

Kelly began his career at the lab as a technician in the technical division, assembling cryostats for the energy saver magnets. He then moved to quad magnets and many other phases of magnet assembly. Next he went on to assembling and testing the stochastic cooling assemblies for the Pbar team. Later, Kelly helped assemble and test the first string of SSC superconducting magnets for the supercollider. This lead to a transfer to Texas for three years to work in the cryogenic division as an operator. When the project was canceled, Kelly was transferred back to Batavia, where he worked as an operator at the Central Helium Liquefier.

An opportunity was given to Kelly to lead the technicians in the Lithium Lens Group in AD/Mechanical Support. After the Tevatron Experiment ended, he moved on to lead the TSD technician group.

Kelly has many memories of his time at Fermilab. There was the time the lab flooded and only Kelly and one other operator were able to make it to the liquefier to spend the day trying to recover helium without power. Another time he will never forget was being closed up at AP-0 on Sept. 11, 2001, replacing a lithium lens for 12 hours. It was like the world changed when they walked out of the target hall. The afternoon was clear and beautiful, not a plane in the sky.

Kelly’s colleague, Patrick Hurh, has fond memories of their time working together.

I began working with Chris Kelly about 25 years ago when he came to the mechanical support department in the accelerator division from the cryogenics operations group. He immediately impressed me with his ability to connect with people of all backgrounds and naturally align strengths and skill sets with roles and responsibilities within MSD. Kelly headed up the operations group of technicians which maintained and upgraded the anti-proton target hall facility which was a critical part of the anti-proton production for the ground-breaking collider physics program. Under his steady guidance, target, lithium lens and other critical component exchange procedures were overhauled and change-out times were reduced from about 72 hours to about 18 hours. This did not come easy, and I remember times that tried everyone in the group almost to the breaking, including a lithium lens change-out on Sept. 11, 2001. Even in the face of those critical and surreal events, Kelly established a calm and measured environment for the technical crew. This ability to connect and lead people of all backgrounds continued as his responsibilities grew to supervisor of technical support for all high intensity target facilities including those required for NuMI/NOvA, BNB, and g-2.

Kelly is also integral to the social fabric of Fermilab, contributing to diversity, education and public outreach. He was a central figure in the Fermilab horse stables, stabling his own family’s horses as well as caring for several horses belonging to past directors. This embodied the pioneering culture first set by Robert Wilson.

In his retirement, Kelly plans to spend quality time with his wife Jacky, and help raise their granddaughter, Ruby. They will stay in the area, and he would love to keep a relationship with the lab in some capacity. Kelly says he is proud and grateful to have played a small part in Fermilab’s achievements.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, there will be an informal gathering for Kelly from 3:30-5:30 p.m., outside the Sidecar in Batavia. Please stop by to say goodbye. This will allow non-employees to join. Please feel free to invite retirees or friends of Kelly’s.

There will be a farewell gathering on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 11 am in the AD Huddle Conference Room (XGW-120). Please stop by to wish Kelly well in his retirement.