DEAD: Leo Baekeland

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Leo Baekeland (aged 80)
Belgian-American chemist (inventor of Bakelite)

Leo Henricus Arthur Baekeland (November 14, 1863 – February 23, 1944) was a Belgian chemist. He is best known for the inventions of Velox photographic paper in 1893 and Bakelite in 1907. He has been called “The Father of the Plastics Industry”:13 for his invention of Bakelite, an inexpensive, nonflammable and versatile plastic, which marked the beginning of the modern plastics industry.

DEATH: As Baekeland grew older he became more eccentric, entering fierce battles with his son and presumptive heir over salary and other issues. He sold the General Bakelite Company to Union Carbide in 1939 and, at his son’s prompting, he retired. He became a recluse, eating all of his meals from cans and becoming obsessed with developing an immense tropical garden on his winter estate in Coconut Grove, Florida. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in a sanatorium in Beacon, New York, in 1944. Baekeland is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

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