***Includes slide show*** Rep. Chris Smith, USPS, Dignitaries Honor Life of Local ScientistBelmar Post Office Renamed to Honor Brilliant, Local Scientist Dr. Walter McAfee
More than 200 people gathered outside the U.S. Post Office located on Main Street in Belmar Friday at a ceremony to rename the building in honor of Dr. Walter S. McAfee, a brilliant mathematician who spent several decades working at Camp Evans and Fort Monmouth on critical scientific and national security projects.
“Dr. McAfee’s breakthrough research and mathematical theories led to bouncing radio signals off the moon’s surface. His unique work served as the forerunner for satellite communications, entry into the space age, moonshots and moonwalks; his many innovations included high-tech sensors that helped the military keep tabs on aggressive actors and thus save the lives of many Americans and our allies,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who wrote the legislation (Public Law 115-151) to rename the facility in honor of Dr. McAfee and his inspirational story. The late Dr. McAfee would have turned 105 on Monday, Sept. 2.
“As an African-American, Dr. McAfee overcame adversity and prejudice with courage, tenacity and faith. His amazing life inspires. He challenges us to strive for excellence. He is truly a role model,” Smith told the crowd. Click here to read excerpts of Congressman Smith’s remarks.
Attending the event were many family members, friends and coworkers of Dr. McAfee’s, including his sister, Velma McAfee-Williams, who turned 90 last week and his daughters Marsha McAfee Bera-Morris and Diane Mercedes McAfee. Bera-Morris shared her own perspective of her father’s love of astrophysics with the gathering.
“I can remember him waking me up, along with my sister Diane—at our request (a request that he probably encouraged)—to see meteor showers or lunar eclipses. Space physics was one of his true loves,” she said. Bera-Morris also spoke of her father’s tenacious drive to overcome racial challenges, pursue higher education and master subject matter before him, as well as the honor she and her family felt regarding the renaming of the Belmar post office. “To have his name here in this Post Office, a central public building, in the place he called home, raised his family, honed his scientific skills and contributed to major space exploration—this moment provides a singular pride and satisfaction for so many of his family and friends and colleagues. Click here to read Bera-Morris’s insights
Other officials speaking at the event—which was accentuated with a color guard from Naval Weapons Station Earle and a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by USPS Letter Carrier Zal Walfon II—were Belmar Mayor Mark Walsifer, Belmar Postmaster John Mutchler III, USPS South Jersey Regional Manager James G. Drummer, InfoAge Science & History Museum CEO Mike Raune and U.S. Army Brigadier General Christopher L. Eubank. Speaking for the family were Bera-McAfee and Dr. Leo Cecil McAfee Jr. The Rev. Yvonne Williams Boyd and the Rev. James A. Jackson Jr. offered invocation and benediction, respectively.Smith, who represents Belmar and surrounding towns serviced by the post office on Main Street, called on Congress to honor Dr. McAfee in a speech on the House floor in December 2017. Smith’s bill was enacted a few months later enabling the Post Office to implement the official name change.