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  Morehead, III, John Motley
NameJohn Motley Morehead, III
AddressForest Avenue
Rye, New York , United States
Born November 03, 1870
DiedJanuary 07, 1965 (94 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedChronicler
Nov 03, 2020 04:29am
InfoJohn Motley Morehead III, chemist and sporadic Republican politician.

Born in Spray NC on 11/3/1870, son of James T. and Mary E.C. Morehead. Grandson of NC Governor John M. Morehead (1841-1845).

Engineering degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1891; Phi Beta Kappa member.

While working in his father’s firm, originally named Willson Aluminum Company, Morehead and his father developed the first cost-effective technique for mass producing calcium carbide and acetylene. When Union Carbide was formed by the merger of smaller firms in 1900, including that of his father, Morehead joined the firm. Morehead developed the process of producing polyethylene, which became the company’s largest product. Chief engineer and major stockholder of Union Carbide. Worked for the company 73 years.

Relocated to Rye NY in 1902.

Married (1) Genevieve Margaret Birkhoff of Chicago, 1915; she died in 1945 [NYT 4/17/1945]. In 1948, he married (2) Leila Duckworth Houghton of England, who died in 1961.

Served on the War Industries Board in World War I with Bernard Baruch. Supervised the production of industrial gases and chemicals.

Mayor of Rye NY 1925-1930. Built a new city hall for Rye, 1964, at a cost of $500,000.

Minister to Sweden 1930-1933 and maintained an interest in Scandinavian affairs thereafter. The Swedish Academy had awarded him its gold medal of 1930 for his work in chemistry and engineering, prompting his appointment as of 2007, Morehead is the only non-Swede to win the award, according to [Link] ).

Donated large sums of money to charity, particularly UNC-CH. He and classmate Rufus Lenoir Patterson, tobacco manufacturer, donated the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower on the campus [NYT 11/27/1931]. He also gave the University the Morehead Planetarium, later renamed the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. Donated a large sum of money, with backing of Union Carbide stock, for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. The Morehead Scholarship is the oldest merit-based scholarship in the United States. Altogether, Morehead donated $17,000,000 to UNC-CH.

Donated a hospital to the town of Spray NC in 1957. Collector of timepieces.

Died of pneumonia in his home on Forest Avenue in Rye NY on 1/7/1965. Buried in Rye Presbyterian Church grounds.

Photo Credit: New York Times 1/8/1965

New York Times 1/8/1965

Items in italics from [Link]


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Importance? 6.00000 Average

Father James T. Morehead 0000-
Grandfather John M. Morehead 1796-1866
Great-Grandfather John Morehead 0000-
Grand Uncle James T. Morehead 1799-1875
Uncle John L. Morehead 0000-
1st Cousin John M. Morehead 1866-1923

  01/22/1930 US Ambassador to Sweden Won 100.00% (+100.00%)