John Motley Morehead III

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For other people of the same name, see John Morehead (disambiguation).

John Motley Morehead III (November 3, 1870 – January 7, 1965) was a chemist whose work provided much of the foundation for the business of Union Carbide Corporation. He was a noted philanthropist who made major gifts to his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also served as mayor of Rye, New York and U.S. ambassador to Sweden. His grandfather John Motley Morehead served as Governor of North Carolina.

Morehead graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1891 and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. One of his notable early scientific discoveries was the development of an economical process for the manufacture of calcium carbide. He was also an authority on the analysis of gases, having invented a device for the purpose and written a book on the subject.

Morehead married Genevieve Margaret Birkhoff. A few years after her death, he married Leila Duckworth Houghton. He had no children. He devoted his considerable fortune to philanthropy, especially to the benefit of UNC-Chapel Hill. With a college classmate and fraternity brother, Rufus Lenoir Patterson, he donated the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower on the campus. He also gave the University the Morehead Planetarium, later renamed the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

One of Morehead's particular interests was in providing financial assistance to students attending UNC-Chapel Hill. To that end he endowed the John Motley Morehead Foundation, which each year awards generous scholarships (for undergraduate work) and fellowships (for the graduate and professional schools) to applicants chosen through an extensive and competitive screening process. The Morehead-Cain Scholarship is the oldest merit-based scholarship in the United States.

Morehead served as minister to Sweden from 1930 to 1933.

Descendants include Jean Motley Morehead Larkin, John L. Morehead, W. Harris Nelson, William H.M. Nelson III The Pilot (Pilot Mountain, North Carolina) [1].

There is a section of Interstate 40 named after him, called the John Motley Morehead III Freeway, that passes through Chapel Hill, North Carolina and most of the eastern end of Orange County.

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Preceded by
Leland Harrison
U.S. Ambassador to Sweden
1930 -1933
Succeeded by
Laurence A. Steinhardt