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LIGO Veteran Gerry Stapfer Retires

LIGO Veteran Gerry Stapfer Retires

- Contributed by Linda Turner

Gerry Stapfer. Good-byes can sometimes be difficult, but when the "good-bye" means "Hello, retirement!" there can be reason to rejoice. A LIGO colleague for the past ten years, Gerry Stapfer is moving into that enviable chapter of life when you wake up when you want, work when (and if) you want, and take things easy, filling your time with those activities that bring pleasure and contentment.

Born in Switzerland, Gerry immigrated to the United States in 1956. In 1962 he began his employment at JPL as a Cognizant Engineer in Section 342, developing solar panels for the Ranger spacecraft. Gerry remained in this section for the next 20 years, being steadily promoted until he became Group Supervisor of the Nuclear Power Sources Group. In 1983 he transferred to Project SP-100, which centered on the research and development of nuclear space reactor power. His decade-long tenure on this project ended when Gerry came over to Caltech in 1993 to join the LIGO Project as Deputy Chief Engineer.

During the past ten years, Gerry has been a key contributor to the LIGO Project as Deputy Group Leader in the Facilities Group during the sites' planning and construction phases; as Facilities Manager at the LIGO Livingston Observatory; and most recently as a contributor to the development of the prototype active seismic isolation systems planned for future implementation in LIGO.

On January 8th, LIGO officially celebrated Gerry's retirement. An afternoon social break, followed by a technical conference, was held to celebrate Gerry's many and varied accomplishments. There were several talks on space based nuclear power systems, with which Gerry had long been associated during his days at JPL. Other presentations highlighted his more recent involvement in LIGO. Colleagues from his past as well as many from the LIGO community attended and wished him well. Festivities continued at the Athenaeum where about 20 joined Gerry and his wife for dinner.

Gerry and Gloria. Gerry receives plaque.

Without LIGO, what will Gerry do? Move! After living in Louisiana, Gerry has chosen to live in Gold Beach, Oregon. Though he's never lived there, he's heard it's a nice place to set up house. And in his words, "most importantly, it has MOUNTAINS! Here in Louisiana, the tallest thing is the freeway overpass!" Gerry looks forward to painting, reading, and hopefully doing some writing. He will also try to sell his other home in Hawaii, but if it doesn't sell he says he may be "forced" to suffer some time living on the Big Island.

To those of us he leaves behind, Gerry will be remembered as much for his warm smile, ready wit, and the every-present twinkle in his eyes as for the great contributions he gave to the projects he worked on. Gerry, we will miss you and wish all good things for this new chapter in your life.


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