Roger Bailey (1954 – 2023)

Roger Bailey (1954 – 2023)

It was with deep sadness that we learned that Roger Bailey passed away on 1 June while out mountain biking in Valais. He was 69.

It was with deep sadness that we learned that Roger Bailey passed away on 1 June while out mountain biking in Valais. He was 69. Roger began his career with a doctorate in experimental particle physics from the University of Sheffield in 1979, going on to a postdoctoral position at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory until 1983. Throughout this time, he worked on experiments at CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) and was based at CERN from 1977. In 1983 he joined the SPS Operations group, where he was responsible for accelerator operation until 1989. He then moved to LEP, playing a leading role through commissioning to operation, and was made Operations group leader in the late 1990s.

After LEP shut down in 2000, Roger became progressively more involved in the LHC, planning and building the team for commissioning with beam. He was actively involved in the LHC’s early operation through to 2011, when he became Director of the CERN Accelerator School (CAS), sharing his wealth of experience and inspiring new generations of accelerator physicists.

Those of us that worked with Rog invariably counted him as a friend: it made perfect sense, given his calm confidence, his kindness and his generosity of spirit.  He was straightforward but never outspoken and his well-developed common sense and pragmatism were combined with a subtle and wicked deadpan sense of humour. We had a lot of fun over the years in what were amazing times for the Lab. Looking back, things he said can still make us chuckle, even in the sadness of his untimely passing.

Rog had a passionate, playful eye for life’s potential and he wasn’t shy. There was an adventurous spirit at work, be it in the mountains or the streets of New York, Berlin or Chicago. His specialities were tracking down music and talking amiably to anyone.

A service to celebrate the life of Roger took place on Friday, 16th June across from the slopes of Verbier, where Roger enjoyed a lot of fun, friendship and snow. During the service a poem of his called It’s a Wrap was read by his daughter Ellie, revealing a physicist’s philosophical view on life in the Universe. There were fond reflections on his life by three of his old friends, and a variation for Roger on a poem by Roger McGough called Big Hugs. The first line asks the question “Before I go, who do I give a hug to?” – it was quite a long list.

Two of his favourite quotes were on the order of service:

Mae West’s “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

Einstein’s “Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.”

And another, by Hunter S. Thompson, was mentioned in the homage given by his son Rob:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Way to go, Rog, way to go.

His friends and colleagues at CERN