Friday, April 15, 2016

Optics Ole'-Timers

Everybody's friend Bob Crawford died a week ago (7 April) on his 77th birthday. Well, I should say that if you had ever met him, he was a friend. One of the nicest folks I've ever known, he was on staff at the Optical Sciences Center's optics shop where I worked for a few years in the 1980s. He was a veteran Master Optician, and as a newcomer to optics after nearly a decade of astronomy in college and Kitt Peak National Observatory, he was quick to help and teach the newbie (me!) in any way he could in my new profession. Even though my duties were mostly in metrology and engineering, he answered my million-and-one questions about fabrication, and slowly I absorbed from the master...

One day I brought in my 4X5 view camera and took some pictures, including these of Bob beside what I recall was a spare mirror for the Multiple Mirror Telescope. I was called on it today by one of the old-timers from the period, but I wasn't around for the original six-mirror fabrication, so this had to be the spare, made out of the same surplus Air Force egg crate fused quartz substrates. In the other image, MMT engineer J.T. Williams was assisting Bob in measuring some of the physical parameters of what was likely a nearly-finished mirror in its handling ring. These negatives have never been printed, but this week I got them scanned and prints made for today's services.

The memorial today was absolutely amazing!  Everyone in the Tucson optics industry was there - a testament to Bob's outgoing personality and how he was loved wherever he went. Former OSC directors, secretaries and former co-workers and staffers of all levels came to pay their respects to Bob's memory, his wife of 52 years Joan, and adult children David and Jennifer. As is always the case (last time was the passing of another OSC optician Ed Strittmatter 2 years ago) it is a shame it takes the death of someone so loved to bring everyone together to catch up on our lives.

Melinda and I had just seen him a couple weeks before his passing while at the cancer center. Melinda was in getting blood tests, and Bob and Joan were on their way home after an oncologist appt. I'm sure he was feeling poorly, but we chatted for a good long while, waiting for Melinda to get out of the lab so they could talk to her and see how she was feeling too. But that was how Bob was - always wanting to be brought up to date, hear a story, a joke, bring out a smile. Thanks Bob - for everything!

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