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October 1997

One more from SCD: Suzy Schemel


Suzy Schemel

For a 26-year veteran of NCAR, Suzy Schemel is departing in rather anticlimactic fashion. She made the decision to take early retirement just in time to join four other departees at a collective SCD retirement bash on 26 September (see last month's Staff Notes Monthly). With some close colleagues among those leaving the division last month, "I just felt like it was my time to go, too." But she's leaving her future deliciously (or is it terrifyingly?) open-ended. "I don't have any specific plans."

Suzy arrived at NCAR in 1971 as a junior at the University of Colorado. "I started out in the library with Mary Haymes [NCAR's chief librarian during the 1970s]." Only a few months later, she joined SCD with a distinction that's hard to imagine now. "I was the very first woman hired in the computer room! If I hadn't made it, just think what things could be like today. My supervisor at the time thought that all women should wear dresses on the job, but you know how the air blows up from the vents under the floor--I just couldn't wear a dress!" With one exception. On 28 July 1973 Suzy and Dave Schemel (no connection to CGD's Dave Schimel) became the first couple to get married on the Mesa Lab's tree plaza.

Most of Suzy's career has been spent in the computer room, supervising operators on the swing shift (4:00 p.m. to midnight). A few years ago, her title changed to property/maintenance coordinator as she added some of the tasks of retiring operations manager Bob Niffenegger. "I write maintenance contracts, issue the 'Daily B' [SCD's e-mail Daily Bulletin], pay invoices, and inventory equipment as it comes in."

Suzy's commute has been a long haul, 22 miles each way from her home in Coal Creek Canyon. Even so, the miles and the years have flown by. "I don't believe I've been here 26 years. It went fast. I feel like I grew up here--they raised me!"

Last year Suzy got a pair of binoculars along with the other 25-year UCAR veterans honored at the traditional year-end lunch. "That's why I'm leaving," she finally allows with a laugh. "I've got my binoculars now. Why should I stay?" •BH


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu

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