In Memoriam: Stanley Sajnacki

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Posted: August 17, 2010

Stanley Sajnacki, who joined the Reactor Division as a pile operator D on February 4, 1952, died on December 3, 2009, at the age of 85. He had retired as a nuclear operator A on August 29, 1986, then returned as a temporary nuclear reactor operator from March 4, 1987, until September 15, 1989.

Three colleagues sent these remembrances of Sajnacki and his valuable contributions.

Remarks from Daniel Slatkin, Medical Department retiree.

Stan operated research reactors at Brookhaven for nearly 47 years, from 1952 through 1989. I remember him respectfully and fondly not just as a reactor operator, but as a member of our boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) research team during the eighties. He personally checked the Brookhaven Medical Research Reactorís (BMRR) basement plumbing and made preventive maintenance adjustments with meticulous care, promptly. I recall a lightning strike on the cylindrical enclosure during one of our experiments (Proc. Nati. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 85, pp. 4020-4024, June 1988). The four boron rods fell and we were shut down immediately. Calmly and carefully, Stan checked the integrity of circuits, plumbing, and cooling flows, then pulled the rods back up one by one slowly, but in a timely manner, so we could resume our irradiations at 3 MW within the hour. He was our master of operations at the BMRR .... not only good-hearted and courteous, but eager to help as a team player. I do not have the expertise to evaluate Stanís technical skills, but I tried to emphasize the consequences of his work -- citing him explicitly in a lecture I gave last August at the Canadian Light Source(Microbeam Radiation Therapy (MRT) - Historical Perspective, August 27, 2009). I believe Stan would have been pleased to know that his early contributions, in part, enabled clinical BNCT to be pursued actively overseas recently, especially in Finland, reportedly with some success in palliating devastating cancers of the head and neck.
— Dan Slatkin

From Henry Hauptman, Staff Services Division

Stan was a very skilled reactor operator and he was able to keep the BMRR operating reliably and at little cost. Stan had a great work ethic and was essentially his own supervisor. Most reactor operators would have needed or wanted a great deal of supervision. Stan saw what needed to be done and did it within the limit established for the reactor. He always kept the needs of the experimenters in mind and tried to help them.
On a funny note Stan had a tube-radio that was at ground level in the building. Stan would tune it to an oldies station and listen to it throughout the day. One day I received a call from Stan and I could hardly hear him due to the music in the background. The volume on his radio got higher as it warmed up and now he was at the reactor controls and could hardly stand the noise. I came over from the HFBR and turned it down for him.
— Hank

John Kalef-Ezra wrote:

I had the pleasure of knowing Stan and collaborating with him. He was a great man, one of the kind of human being that is hard to find nowadays.
— John

Last Modified: August 17, 2010