My father brought a photocopy to dinner. He glanced at it, then said “Who was Maurice Hilleman?” I didn’t know, nor did my mother. “It’s a shame,” he said. “When you think of all the famous names you know, and the silly reasons they’re famous.” Then he showed the photocopy. It was Time‘s “Milestones” page, and read:
DIED. MAURICE HILLEMAN, 85, low-profile microbiologist credited with developing some 40 vaccines–a record–and saving more lives than any other 20th century scientist; in Philadelphia. Persuaded to go to college by his brother, who thought he should aim higher than his job as a clerk at a local J.C. Penney, the Montana farm boy eventually took what turned out to be a three-decade-long job at pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. He developed eight of the 14 vaccines currently recommend to protect children against measles, mumps, hepatitis A and B, and chickenpox.
Isn’t it time to celebrate smart people again?