Prominent African American scientist, inventor killed in Md. house fire

A Prince George's County family is preparing to bury a distinguished scientist and inventor killed when his home caught fire last week.

George Nauflett, 84, grew up during segregation and went on to become a rocket scientist. He was featured in a book about prominent African Americans called The Inventive Spirit of African Americans: Patented Ingenuity.

"He had 22 patents, he participated in 59 publications, just a brilliant man," said his daughter Joyce Bradford.

She said her father grew up poor, and even with his success later in life, he always stayed true to his humble beginnings.

"You would see him on the street, and he may have a wrinkled shirt on and some socks that come up to his thigh," Bradford said. "If he was carrying a cup of coffee, you might drop a quarter in it. But you would never know his accomplishments because he didn't measure his worth on material things."

Bradford said her father's true passion was his family, especially his four grandkids.

The fire sparked late Friday at Nauflett's home on Belfast Place where he lived for decades with his wife, Minnie. She was able to escape the flames.

A neighbor who was on scene after the fire started said Minnie thought her husband was right behind her, and she wanted to go back for him, but the house was overcome by flames.

"It's only through the grace of God that my mom made it out just looking at the damage in the house," said the couple's son, Derrick Nauflett.

Investigators say the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The inside of the home and almost all the couple's belongings were destroyed.

"The house is going to have to be completely gutted and rebuilt from scratch," Nauflett said. "And we are going to rebuild the house. This is a fixture of the neighborhood and my mom is going to have her house back."

Friends started a GoFundMe account for the family. To donate, go to