After 53 years, Curtis Danner retires

Curtis Danner

Curtis Danner

Congratulations and thank you to Curtis Danner for a long and fulfilling career at Fermilab. He joined the lab June 29, 1970 and will retire on March 30, 2023.

Curtis joined Fermilab right out of high school, literally graduating on Friday and starting at the lab on the following Monday. Curtis has been here at Fermilab for 53 years and remembers basically all of the lab’s history. He started out working in the village. The high rise was under construction and only 3 stories tall when he started.

Over the years Curtis has done a wide range of projects. He says that has been what has kept him happy at his work: always having different things to do.

One of his first tasks at the lab was setting up the bubble chamber scanners on the 9th floor of the high rise with Carl Lindenmeyer. He followed that with a wide range of multi-tasking activities: 20 years of maintaining the CNC machines in the village, 2 years maintaining the coordinate measuring machines at SiDet, building the 3 muon chamber winding machines for CMS collaborating institutions, building a CNC pick-and-place robot for CMS.

For many years he has maintained the tech shop in Wilson Hall, first on the 9th floor, then 13th, and finally on the ground floor of Wilson Hall. He trained a great many people to use it safely, me being one of those people.

For 4 years he was a member of the Employee Advisory Group and worked with lab management on issues that concerned technicians, including flex time and benefits.

For years Curtis has maintained electronic displays for the Lederman Science Center and the exhibits on the 15th floor of Wilson Hall. For example, there is a very interesting data-to-music-and-light display for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search experiment, designed by musician Karl Ramberg, brother of Fermilab scientist Eric Ramberg. This display takes CDMS experimental data and translates it into sound and light. Curtis built all of the electronics for these units and maintains them.

In the early days of Fermilab, the lab offered at-home study opportunities. One project was to build a Heathkit television set, which Curtis did. This sparked an interest in TV repair, which he did for many years, including TVs at Fermilab.

In the 1970s, Curtis participated in the Fermilab basketball league, which would play over lunch break. To speed the game along, he built a programmable score board with shot clocks and other features.

Curtis has been a guiding hand for generations of new employees in the Electrical Engineering Department of the Particle Physics Division. He showed them how things were done at the lab, and helped get them started in their careers.

He also has always been interested in doing new stuff. This has led him to a variety of activities including designing an electronic game that taught binary numbers and repairing the readout for the pumps at the Fermilab fuel station.

Curtis plans to stay active in retirement, helping his wife’s business, tinkering in his (heated!) garage on many projects he wants to complete, and of course babysitting his grandchildren.

Good luck, Curtis!