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Congratulations to Four NWS Louisville Staff on their Retirement

The National Weather Service office in Louisville will start out 2018 with an experience gap of nearly 160 years, due to the retirement of four long-time staff.  While the loss of their expertise will undoubtedly be felt by the remaining staff attempting to fill their shoes in an official capacity, the real absence will be in the unofficial realm.  Those of us reporting for duty after the first week of January will have to learn to go about our business without the good-natured ribbing, obscure trivia, rapid-fire puns, and updates on children who grew from infants to married adults during their fathers’ careers in Louisville.  You see, while we’re happy for them being able to sleep in, stay home during bad weather, and make plans without regard to their work schedules, we’re going to miss them.  They aren’t just coworkers; they are part of our NWS family.   


Four NWS Louisville retirees

NWS Louisville retirees (L-R): Rick Lasher, Bill Whitlock, Bob Szappanos, Mike Callahan 

The four NWS family members who will spend more time enjoying the weather in the Ohio Valley than worrying about warning the public when it becomes hazardous are:

  • Electronics Systems Analyst Bill Whitlock (~35 years)

  • Senior Service Hydrologist Mike Callahan (39+ years)

  • Hydrometeorological Technician Rick Lasher (~41.5 years)

  • Hydrometeorological Technician Bob Szappanos (42.5 years - 12.5 USAF and 30 NWS)

In an agency that has experienced numerous changes during his career - including the consolidation of more than 300 local offices into 122 nationwide, it is notable that Whitlock spent his entire NWS career in Louisville - working his way up from an entry level engineering aid position to the head of all Electronics Systems, a position he has held for nearly 20 years.  During his career, Bill didn’t just witness the modernization of the NWS equipment from 1950s- and ‘60s-era radar and computers to the state-of-the-art Doppler radar, satellite, and communications systems; he was responsible for making them work in Louisville!   

Callahan worked in two previous NWS offices - Charleston, West Virginia and the River Forecast Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - before moving to Louisville in 1985.  As the NWS’ Senior Hydrologist in Kentucky, Mike has perhaps more knowledge of the rivers, lakes, and streams of the Commonwealth - and those of southern Indiana - than any person alive. In addition to his expertise with water, Mike’s computer programming skills will be missed, not just by the Louisville office, but throughout the NWS, as he has written numerous programs adopted nationwide over the years to help the NWS meet its mission of protecting lives and property.

Lasher started in the Louisville NWS office as a contracted state employee just before the nation’s Bicentennial, serving as one of the local voices of NOAA Weather Radio.  With no non-contract positions available in the Louisville office, Rick had to move to Charleston, West Virginia to join the agency as a permanent employee, but after two and a half years, he returned to Kentuckiana, and has been here ever since, taking weather observations, working with cooperative observers, and assisting forecasters in operations.   

Szappanos spent 12 and a half years as a weather observer/forecaster in the U.S. Air Force, then briefly served as a contract observer in Terre Haute, Indiana before joining the NWS in Lexington.  When the Lexington office closed as part of the NWS modernization in the mid 1990s, Bob moved over to Louisville and joined Lasher in the observation and public service duties.  Bob was always at his best during severe weather, working the phones diligently to get ground-truth reports to help the forecasters in the warning decision process.  

The remaining staff at NWS Louisville congratulate all four on their retirement and wish them  happy and productive years to come.  Anyone interested in sending one or more of them a message can email the office and we’ll forward your messages on to them.