Famed Black Chemist And Inventor Dies From House Fire
George Nauflett with wife Minnie Nauflett
A black chemist and inventor who earned more than two dozen patents throughout his lifetime, passed away at the age of 84.
George Nauflett died this past Friday in a fire at his home in Oxon Hill, Maryland, according to the Washington Post. He and his wife, Minnie Nauflett, tried to escape but only Minnie was successful. The cause of the fire that took George's life is still under investigation.
"He was a brilliant man. His passion was science," Derrick Nauflett, George's son, told the Post about his father. "Growing up, it was a lot of fun because he was heavily involved in all of our science projects. He was very engaged with all of his kids early on. He was very in tune to helping us find what our passions were."
George grew up in the segregated South with his aunt in a one bedroom house, and left school after the eighth grade. At the age of 19 he joined the air force and took advantage of the educational opportunities offered to him through the GI Bill.
However, George experienced challenges as a black chemist and inventor. In a Voice of America article about the book, George said he faced challenges as a black man in his field.
"People don't believe you can do the things you do," he said. "They say you're just lucky. But when you keep doing it over and over again, you end up proving yourself."
Still, George's contributions have been celebrated and written about. His extensive work was featured in a 2004 book titled, The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity. According to the Post, he developed a material that was used on a satellite that the Americans and Russians sent into outer space.
One of the last things George did with Minnie was vote early on the presidential election.
"I feel blessed that he had 84 years. He was always so active, and now he has his legs back," Derrick said. "That's where I get my relief from. That's where I draw my peace from. He is now whole up in heaven."