A retirement party was hosted for Darrell Lay today in Buehler Hall 511 to honor his 46 years of service to the Department of Chemistry.
With food, flowers, gifts, laughters, tears, speeches, holiday spirit, and even a “money tree”, chemistry faculty, staff, and students joined each other to celebrate the coming holiday and Darrel Lay’s retirement.
“Darrel is an exemplary parachute packer.” Dr. George Schweitzer paused a little, then compared faculty members to parachuters. “All faculty members should remember, we could not do research just by ourselves. We depend on our graduate students and staff.” Dr. George Kabalka patted Darrell on his shoulder and said, “I probably could not have gotten that grant if it were not for him.”
Darrell joined the Department as a Storekeeper on Dec. 6, 1965. At the time, he was responsible to order supplies and dispensed items to labs, faculty, and graduate students, but on a much smaller scale than now. As the Department transformed over the years, Darrell’s job also went through the same process. Darrell joked that he had worked everywhere inside the Department except that he had never had to lecture.
In the past 46 years, Darrell has worked hard to earn everyone’s trust, love, and respect. “Darrell is the most honest person I have ever met.” Dr. William Bull, former Associate Department Head said while returning a key he has kept for years to Darrell. And that act stimulated a room of laughters.
Darrell now lives with his wife Mary Ruth, who just retired from from Oak Ridge National Lab as a Senior Staff Administrator with the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility after 39 years of service. They plan to “do a little travel” in Tennessee first and hope to have “a trip out West” in the near future. While taking care of his blueberries, apple trees, and fig trees are also part of the plan, Darrell said he would come back to visit the Department from time to time. “No one spends half of century working somewhere just because of the job,” Darrell said. “I stayed because of people here. I love all the faculty members, students, and staff I work with.”
Special thanks goes to staff members in the Business Office and Main Office who organized the party and came up with many brilliant ideas.