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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 65
CHARLES STARK DRAPER
October 2, 1901-July 25, 1987
BY ROBERT A. DUFFY
CHARLES STARK DRAPER, a complex genius of the twentieth century, was truly a modern version of the Renaissance man. A teacher, scientist, and engineer by profession, but self-described as a ''greasy thumb mechanic,'' he was born in the American Midwest at the turn of the century, October 2, 1901. He grew up in the small Missouri town of Windsor, the son of the town dentist. He went through the town's public school system and entered college when he was fifteen years old at the Rolla campus of the University of Missouri as a liberal arts student. After two years at Rolla, he transferred to Stanford University from which he graduated in 1922 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. Among all of the other things at which he excelled, "Doc" understood human beings and he understood how to challenge them. The psychology curriculum probably did no harm, but instinctively Doc knew how to lead and how to get people to follow towards a common goal. He naturally interacted well with people. He liked and was interested in his students and his colleagues, and his students and colleagues loved him in return. Above all; however, despite his empathy with and for people, he lived for his technology and his life became the technology he nurtured to useful maturity.