Professor Gerald Harding, NASA scientist best known as “The Grandfather of Memory Foam,” has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Professor Harding is the world’s foremost authority on synthetic materials and their application,” said Gerald Harding, Jr., son of the inventor. “His NASA research in the 1970s improved the lives of many, so it is with sadness that we report to you the current condition of his health.”
The announcement was made so that focus would not be lost on the illness.
Although the foam is currently associated with furniture and mattresses, it was originally developed by Professor Harding to improve cushioning for pilots and astronauts during long-duration flights and missions, and to protect test pilots and aviators from injury.
Professor Harding began exhibiting signs of memory loss and general dementia some time ago. Gerald, Jr. spoke of his father’s illness.
“He’d go into the kitchen and forget why. We all do that occasionally, but it got worse as time went on. He’d come back into the living room, sit down and ask ‘Is this a new chair? It’s so comfortable!’”
Gerald, Jr. would explain that the professor himself invented the very foam that made the chair so pleasant.
“Sometimes he’d remember, sometimes he wouldn’t. The chair remembered him more than he remembered the chair.”
“You know,” said Gerald, Jr. “the disease has mellowed him out. He’s enjoying things now that he never had time to enjoy before”
A tribute dinner is planned.