Bob Miller passed away in October after a brief illness. He was a well-loved member of the ALS community, and even after his retirement in 2000, he was always around for advice and social events. He was well known for his love of the outdoors and for his passion for remote-controlled planes and boats.
Memories from Colleagues
I first met Bob in 1976 when I joined the electronics maintenance staff at the Bevatron. As the head of the Operations crew, Bob’s job was to keep the machine humming, a job he accomplished with consummate skill. I was thrilled then when, 13 years later, Bob joined the ALS project team. Bob was an absolutely unique talent, combining decades of experience working with accelerator technologies and operations, with seemingly unlimited practical know-how. Add to that a truly warm personality and a wonderful sense of humor, and you would have a sense of who Bob was.
As expected, Bob played a key role in getting the ALS built and installed in a manner that allowed the team to commission the machine in record time. He was head of operations from 1993 until he retired in 2000). But his impact on the ALS was broader then his title suggests. I went to Bob many times over the years to gain the benefit of his common sense advice on difficult problems. I know I wasn’t the only one. The Lab was very fortunate to have had the benefit of Bob’s many talents. I personally feel very lucky to have worked with Bob for so many years – he was a trusted colleague and good friend.
Bob joined Berkeley Lab in 1961 as a mechanical tech, and became an Accelerator Operator in 1966. By the time I met Bob, in 1984 when I joined the SuperHILAC, he led Operations for the Bevatron, with overall responsibility for the daily operations, including direct supervision of the accelerator operators, mechanical technicians, and riggers. I got to know Bob better in 1988 when I moved down the hill to the Bevatron. He ran his operations with a unique, humorous, low-key style, taking disasters in stride as a matter of course and using his decades of practical accelerator experience to provide a successful path forward. As we began dealing with severe reductions in resources at the Bevatron in addition to enhanced safety and procedural requirements, Bob demonstrated his ability to maintain staff morale while actually increasing the efficiency of operations. Of course, his extraordinary talents soon led to his departure from the Bevatron, in October 1990, to take the lead in the day-to-day construction of the newest accelerator at Berkeley Lab, the ALS. Bob was invaluable to me once again after I joined the ALS at the start of Operations, since he not only knew exactly what was going on at any particular time, he also knew the detailed construction, installation, and operating history of practically every component in the building. After retirement in 2000, Bob continued to play an active role at the Lab, especially during the final demolition of the Bevatron. Bob was able to explain in detail how the Bevatron was put together, and therefore allow it to be taken apart in a safe, effective, and efficient manner, making a critical final contribution to the Lab. I will miss Bob’s enthusiasm, sense of humor, and above all, his practical advice.