1900 – 1982
Charles A. Thomas was a leader in Dayton’s segment of the Manhattan Project, a highly-classified U.S. government program to design and construct a working atomic weapon. Trained as a chemist, Thomas moved to Dayton at the behest of Charles Kettering to become a research chemist for General Motors Research Corporation. Thomas and chemist Carroll Hochwalt established Thomas and Hochwalt Laboratories in Dayton. Eventually this company was bought out by Monsanto Chemical Company, and Thomas became Monsanto’s director of central research. During
World War II, Thomas was recruited to the Manhattan Project, where he worked on the refinement and production of polonium, an essential component of triggers of early atomic bombs. By 1948, when the Mound Laboratory in Miamisburg assumed responsibility for polonium research, the Dayton Project begun by Thomas employed several hundred scientists at four locations within the area. He was awarded one of 14 medals for merit distributed to leaders of the Manhattan Project by President Harry Truman. In 1945, Thomas moved away from Dayton to continue his distinguished career with Monsanto, culminating in his service as chairman of the board.