A long time ago, when the earth was young and restless, Mike Rhodes arrived at UMass with the intention of setting up an XRF facility. Within two weeks of his arrival a new (at that time state-of-the-art) Siemens XRF spectrograph was delivered to the university. There was, however a major snag. It was delivered on one of the many state holidays, for which Massachusetts is notorious. To the amazement of all, the spectrograph had been delivered to the Physical Plant loading dock when no one was at work and the building was locked up. Nonetheless, the following day, there were all the crates inside the loading dock! How did they get there, and why should we be concerned? Well, they had been received as being delivered in an undamaged state. Who took the authority for assuring that everything was there, and in pristine condition? The documents, conveniently left with the packing cases, had been signed by one Ronald B. Gilmore. Who was this mysterious person? He certainly didn’t work for Physical Plant. Computer searches subsequently failed to find his name amongst university employees or students! Who was our mysterious benefactor, and where did he come from? To this day, nobody knows.
There is a sequel to this story. Arrangements were made to have the equipment moved from the Physical Plant loading dock to the Geology Department. When the great day arrived, Mike Rhodes received an ominous phone call from the foreman of the movers requesting a waiver of responsibility before the XRF could be moved. Naturally, being a cautious soul and not one of the world’s great optimists, he declined. He was told that a waiver was necessary because, on a previous occasion when moving a computer, the computer had rolled on its casters off the back of a truck, and Physical Plant had been held financially responsible. “What?!,” choked Rhodes, “you tell me a story like this and expect me to sign a bloody waiver?!” A Mexican standoff ensued. This crisis was eventually averted, not by going through various channels such as the Department Head, Dean, or University Chancellor (all were tried), but by Siemens hiring a local mover to move the XRF from the Physical Plant to the Geology Department.
Following this saga, we decided (and we think appropriately) to name our Laboratory in memory of the elusive Ronald B. Gilmore. Some have said that we have sick minds, but they were confusing Gary Gilmore (the well known mass murderer) with our Ronald B. Gilmore. The name ‘Ronald B. Gilmore’ has become so well established at UMass, that you could send a check made out to Ronald B. Gilmore and it would be credited to the XRF facility trust fund. Try it if you don’t believe it!