Published in The Coast Star on July 31, 1997 by Janine Bilotti
Former South Belmar resident Dr. Walter Samuel McAfee was a man of very high standards, and this week, a life of excellence was recognized, when Fort Monmouth Officials named a new building after him.
Dr. McAfee’s wife, Viola, South Belmar and two daughters Diane Mercedes McAfee, San Jose, Calif., and Marsha Ann Bera-Morris, Washington, D.C., attended the ceremony held Monday morning which named the McAfee Center, Telegraph Road and Harmon Avenue, in honor of M McAfee.
“He believed in doing his best, and he knew he could do well,” Diane Mercedes, one of Dr. McAfee’s daughters described him on Tuesday.
“He knew excellence was within his reach – and he was able to accomplish that,” she said,
Dr. McAfee, who died of cancer on Feb. 18, 1995 at 81, was a Fort Monmouth astrophysicist who took a major part in an experiment in which the first radio signals were bounced off of the moon’s surface from the Army Signal Corps Radar Laboratory at Camp Evans, Wall Township, on Jan. 10, 1946.
Dr. McAfee earned nationwide recognition and several awards for his theoretical calculations performed in the experiment. .
The McAfee Center will house the Information and lntelligence Electronic Warfare Directorate of CECOM’s Research, Development end Engineering.
In 1993, a Base Realignment and Closure Commission directive was made to consolidate the former Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Directorate operations located at Vint Hills Farms Station, Warrentown; Va. and Fort Monmouth’s Evans area into one building at Fort Monmouth.
Dr. McAfee had a good sense of humor, his daughter Diane Mercedes said, but he also expected a lot from his children, she said.
He also had a very high ethical sense, she said.
Dr. McAfee also loved literature, Diana said.
In fact, it was his goal when he retired to read all of the physics book he still hadn’t had a chance to read, but unfortunately, he contracted glaucoma and became blind when he retired, Diane said.
He still managed to read what was required of him in terms of bills and other paper work resulting from daily living, she said.
“It really was a heroic effort,” she said.
Sometimes Diane or her father’s friend Bill Marko would read those physic books, which were usually written in small print, to him, she added.
Since he was the son of a carpenter, Dr. McAfee was always handy around the the house, Diane said.
Dr. McAfee, born on Sept.. 2, 1914, in Ore City, Texas, attended public schools in Marshall, Texas, graduating high school with honors.
After that, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, magna cum laude, at Wiley College in 1934; a. master’s degree in physics from Ohio State University in 1937 and a doctorate in physics form Cornell University in 1949.
He also was awarded an honorary doctorate in science from Monmouth University in 1958, and the Steven’s Award from Steven’s Institute of Technology in 1985.
Dr. McAfee held numerous supervisory positions during his 42 years at Fort Monmouth, including Chief of Signal Corps Laboratories’ Radiation Physics Section; Chief of the Electromagnetic Wave Propagation Section; director of the Passive Sensing Technical Area, Combat Surveillance and Target Acquisition (CSTA) Laboratory; and Senior Scientist in the Electro-Optics Technical Area, CSTA after which he was promoted to a GS-16.
Before he retired, Dr. McAfee was a scientific advisor to the U.S. Arm Electronics Research and Development Command.
Dr. McAfee also served as director of the scientific study on surveillance and target acquisition for NATO.
He concurrently lectured in atomic and nuclear physic and solid state electronics at Monmouth College from 1958 to 1975.
Among the plethora of awards he received, Dr. McAfee received the Rosenwald Fellowship in Nuclear Physics and the Secretary of the Army Fellowship, presented by President Eisenhower at a White House ceremony. The fellowship enable him to study radio astronomy for two years, at Harvard University.
Dr. McAfee is listed in “American Men and Women of Science,” “Who’s Who in the East,” and “Who’s Who Black Americans. ”
Dr. McAfee met his wife Viola in 1935 in Columbus, Ohio. The couple married in June of 1941 arid moved to South Belmar in September of 1942.
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