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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

John H. Gillette (1916-2014) was an American chemist.

A lifelong native of upstate New York, Gillette arrived in Oak Ridge in 1943 after several years of working for DuPont. He worked at the site’s X-10 plant on the graphite reactor, and was present when the reactor went critical. He was very proud of the plant’s achievement, saying, “It proved a point, that you could do something better than they did at the University of Chicago.”

Shortly after, in 1944, Gillette was transferred to the Hanford project site. He remained there for the rest of the war, but returned to Oak Ridge in 1946. He continued to work for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory until his retirement in 1981.

When Gillette passed away in 2014, he was believed to be the last surviving employee who worked on the Oak Ridge graphite reactor.

John H. Gillette's Timeline
1916 May 8th Born in Scott, NY.
1939 Received a B.S. in chemistry from St. Lawrence University.
1943 Aug Arrived at the X-10 plant at Oak Ridge.
1944 Transferred to the Hanford project site.
19461981 Worked for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
2014 Feb 5th Died in Oak Ridge, TN.

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