Congratulations, Gail Roberts, on phase 1 of your retirement.
While Gail Roberts is not completely retired (transitioning to part-time en route to full retirement), we want to thank her for her extraordinary contributions over one incredible career. Gail is not only a Senior Designer at Barber-Nichols, she is so much more.
Gail is a trailblazer. She attended Colorado School of Mines in the 70s when there were only two women’s restrooms on the entire campus. She began working for Barber-Nichols over 44 years ago. There weren’t any women in technical roles at Barber-Nichols at the time Gail started. She opened the door and her work enabled the diversity that we now enjoy at Barber-Nichols today. Her technical expertise spans the full spectrum of BN products; from DoD products for advanced and development programs, rocket engine turbopumps, national and international laboratory products, tooling for major programs, extensive design work for manufacturing restart efforts, and many one-off advanced turbomachinery products for critical programs.
Gail’s technical acumen and ability to work with a wide range of people enable her to bring products to fruition. She would regularly speak with both machinists and technicians to gather input to ensure designs not only meet performance but could be manufactured, assembled, and tested. She is approachable and knowledgeable. She is always willing to entertain discussions on her designs and can let you know the “why” behind key design features incorporated to meet requirements. She mentored many engineers, designers, project staff, and others who wanted to glean something from her extensive experience. Gail is always willing to teach and mentor. Her knowledge of design methodologies and techniques is vast. Her experience has been invaluable during sales when concepts are being introduced, during design reviews, and when challenges arise. She has been a go-to now for many decades and her legacy is not just her designs, but also the processes to create some of the most challenging turbomachines in aerospace and defense.
Gail has shaped the culture of Barber-Nichols over the years. She is not only incredibly creative and articulate, but she also possesses a great sense of humor. Her Christmas roasts are the stuff of legend and no one was immune. People would laugh, lament and cringe when she would rise to deliver them. She truly rivaled some of the famous roasters in Hollywood. These events are permanently embedded in the lore of the organization. She can tell a story like many of the greats, and her ability makes her the go-to if you want to hear the amazing stories of the Barber-Nichols of old. She makes stories come to life and paints a vivid picture of the fledgling organization working hard to make it, and survive the 80’s recession in addition to the many events that caused other firms to disappear. We could go on and on. But if we had to sum up what we want Gail to remember, it is this:
May you reflect proudly on all the work you’ve done,
The person you are, and the difference you’ve made.
Know that others follow in the path you blazed
And now create their own path thanks to you.
You are a permanent part of our cultural fabric and
May you enjoy this time and look forward to all that life has yet to reveal.
Gail thank you and enjoy your well-deserved retirement slow-roll.
Thanks to Dave Kwiatkowski for helping us pull together the words for this tribute to Gail!