Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, but left her home town at age 14 because, as a young black woman, there were no local schools she could attend after eighth grade.
On Monday, at age 97, Johnson was named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, for a hugely influential career in mathematics that played a role in every major U.S. space program, from Alan Shepard’s first space flight up through the Space Shuttle.
Johnson’s work for the U.S. space program predates the creation of NASA. Her computations on flight trajectories were used on Shepard’s inaugural flight, John Glenn’s orbit of the earth and the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
Wow. What an amazing life. I'm glad to see someone like her honored this way.