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Probably the Number One character I knew (and there is a notable list at T-2) was Roy Wasilkowski, AKA “The Waz” (pronounced “woz”). I don’t think I’ve ever heard him referred to as Roy—simply mention “The Waz” and every ZAU controller, every bartender in Aurora, every ATC hockey player, and every supervisor knew exactly who you were talking about.
If you ever encountered him in the bars, he was the most inimidating character you can imagine. He was a fairly big guy—probably 6' 1" or so, and probably 210 or thereabouts—not huge by NFL standards, but if you have long, wild hair, are a known abuser of intoxicants, are belligerent, and have a nasty reputation, you don’t have to be NFL big to be intimidating.
I first ran into him in the taverns in my first six months in the Center and didn’t even realize he was a controller, which, by the way, made him even scarier. Fortunately (although I am a happy drunk), about the second or third time, he had gotten word from some coworkers that I was okay, and that made me okay with him. He never made an attempt to push me around after that.
The Waz also played hockey, although I’m told that “played” is in the context of suiting up and showing up. He was never far from ice anyway, whether on it or drinking it, and sometimes both at the same time, which probably accounts for his undemonstrated skill at the sport. Nevertheless, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the ZAU hockey team and the ATC hockey tournaments played annually at the time.
My friend, Phil Gies, a controller in Winnipeg Center (Manitoba), has a websiteand he tells a great Waz story there. Read the whole page to get some background on ATC Hockey, as well. For even more background, go to the horse’s mouth at and not only get details about the tournaments but confirmation of the Waz’ impact on ATC and hockey across the continent.
Two interesting things about The Waz—he was a pretty good controller, and he was a talented musician. Sadly, with all of his alcohol related activities, you hardly ever got to see much evidence of his gifts. Even more sad, he passed away at far too young an age—fifties at the latest, and he took his demons to the grave to which they had sent him.
Last updated: 24 April 2009