Robert Wilson's niece visits her uncle's legacy
|Carl and Susan Bellone visited Fermilab last week. Susan is the niece of Robert Wilson, Fermilab's founding director.
Many knew Fermilab's founding director as "Dr. Wilson" or "Robert" or "Bob." But to a recent visitor, Wilson went by the name "Uncle Bobby."
Susan Bellone, Wilson's niece, came to visit the laboratory for the first time on Thursday, Sept. 2. Bellone recently retired from her career as an elementary school teacher and teacher trainer in California. Roads & Grounds' Bob Lootens and Fermilab historian Adrienne Kolb led Bellone and her husband, Carl, on a tour of the site.
"It's much bigger than I thought," she said as she first walked into the atrium of Wilson Hall, which her uncle helped to design.
When Wilson established Fermilab, then known as National Accelerator Laboratory, he put a great deal of effort into creating a unique look and feel for the laboratory. He and a designer friend came up with the blue and orange color scheme to which Fermilab publications still adhere. He created many of the sculptures on site. And he helped to design the buildings and grounds, down to the slope of the roof of the education center and the curve of the road that leads to it. He wanted to create structures harmonious with the surrounding landscape, Bellone said.
Art was an integral part of Wilson's life, she said.
"He said that when he would work on a drawing or sculpture, he'd get very engrossed in that," Bellone said.
"But then the solution to a physics problem would come to him. And when he was working on science, he would see the art in it. He felt there was a close connection."
Bellone enjoyed seeing the physical evidence of Wilson's influence at the laboratory. She also enjoyed hearing stories from the employees who knew him.
"It was nice seeing that my uncle is still remembered," she said.
-- Kathryn Grim