Who Were the American Inventors, Who Chose to Celebrate Their Life’s Work in Death?
Fredric John Baur: A chemist and food storage technician notable for designing and patenting the Pringles packaging. Baur filed for a patent for the tubular Pringles container and for the method of packaging the curved, stacked chips in the container in 1966, and it was granted in 1970.
His other accomplishments included development of frying oils and freeze-dried ice cream. Baur was a graduate of the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio and received both his Masters and PhD degrees at The Ohio State University. He also served in the U.S. Navy as an aviation physiologist.
He was a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio. Baur, 89, was cremated and partial remains of Baur were placed in a Pringles can. The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to one of Baur’s grandchildren. Baur’s children said they honored his request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township. The rest of his remains were placed in an urn buried along with the can, with some placed in another urn and given to one of Baur’s grandchildren.
The chemist, who retired from Proctor & Gamble in the early 1980s, joins other American inventors, who chose to celebrate their life’s work in death. Amongst the others:
Ed Headrick: Edward Early Headrick was born in South Pasadena, Calif., on June 28, 1924. He served in the Army infantry in Europe during World War II and later worked as a deep-sea welder and water heater salesman, among other things. When 78-year-old Frisbee inventor Ed Headrick died in 2002, family members announced that they would honor his wish and mold his ashes into a flying disc. That’s great news for kids. Even after the memorial service, they can play catch with grandpa.
Ed Headrick, who designed and patented the modern Frisbee, died due to a stroke. Mr. Headrick accepted a job in 1964 as head of research and development for the Wham-O Manufacturing Company in San Gabriel, Calif., he was assigned the task of figuring out what to do with a warehouse full of unused plastic that had been intended for Hula-Hoops, another Wham-O product that came and went quickly.
His idea was to modify the Pluto Platter, a disc toy originally intended for children, into a sport for teenagers and adults. Walter Frederick Morrison had invented the disc and sold it to Wham-O in 1955. Mr. Morrison’s name is on the patent granted in 1957, and he became rich from Frisbee royalties.
Mr. Headrick added the rings surrounding the top of the Frisbee to enhance stability in flight, as well as perfecting the shape to make it more aerodynamic. His name is on patent No. 3,359,678, dated Dec. 26, 1967.
His so-called professional model became the modern Frisbee, although the patent document called it a flying saucer. The game of Frisbee had its roots on the campuses of New England colleges, where the Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Conn., sold pies, and students liked to toss the empty tins.
Eugene Wesley Roddenberry: In September 1999, the ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, along with those of LSD guru Timothy Leary, boldly went where no urn had gone before — into orbit, via a U.S. satellite. Eugene Wesley Roddenberry (August 19, 1921 – October 24, 1991) was an American television screenwriter and producer. He is best remembered for creating the original Star Trek television series.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, where his father was a police officer. Roddenberry flew 89 combat missions in the Army Air Forces during World War II, and worked as a commercial pilot after the war. Later, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Los Angeles Police Department, where he also began to write scripts for television.
As a freelance writer, Roddenberry wrote scripts for Highway Patrol, Have Gun–Will Travel, and other series, before creating and producing his own television series The Lieutenant. In 1964, Roddenberry created Star Trek, which premiered in 1966 and ran for three seasons before being canceled. He then worked on other projects, including a string of failed television pilots.
The syndication of Star Trek led to its growing popularity; this, in turn, resulted in the Star Trek feature films, on which Roddenberry continued to produce and consult. In 1987, the sequel series Star Trek: The Next Generation began airing on television in first-run syndication; Roddenberry was heavily involved in the initial development of the series, but took a less active role after the first season due to ill health. He continued to consult on the series until his death in 1991.
In 1985, he became the first TV writer with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he was later inducted by both the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Years after his death, Roddenberry was one of the first humans to have his ashes carried into earth orbit. The popularity of the Star Trek universe and films has inspired films, books, comic books, video games, and fan films set in the Star Trek universe.
Mark Gruenwald: Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald was a creative force behind such classics as Captain America and Quasar. In 1996, his wife honored his final request and mixed his ashes with ink during the printing of a comic book. There’s a little piece of him in Squadron Supreme, a limited-run poster of Marvel characters that’s popular with collectors.
In 1996, Gruenwald succumbed to a heart attack, the result of an unsuspected congenital heart defect. Gruenwald was a well-known practical joker, and due to his young age, many of his friends and co-workers initially believed the reports of his death to be just another joke.