George Moon Sammy (17th Nov 1922 - 11th Jul 1988)
Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 1
George Moon Sammy was born on November 17th 1922 in Duncan Village, Trinidad. He came from a poor family and as a youngster, worked in a sugar-cane estate and sold produce on the streets. He attended Canaan Canadian Mission School but left at age 13 to work full-time. At home he studied French, Chemistry and Mathematics.
He worked as an apprentice tailor and took typing, shorthand and book-keeping courses. Afterwards, he worked at Texaco Oil Company as an office boy, then a lab hand. There he developed a desire to pursue a career in chemistry. In 1953, he passed the matriculation examination and was accepted by Sir John Cass College, University of London. In England he worked during vacations to earn his tuition fees and became an active member of the World Scout Association. In 1957, he earned a Special Honours Degree in Chemistry.
He was employed by the Texaco Refinery Laboratory as a Chemist then as a Research Chemist. In 1964, while a post-graduate student at UWI, he was offered the position of Lecturer. He earned a doctorate in Physical Organic Chemistry (1966) and completed a Master of Science in Food Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts, USA (1967).
Sammy returned to UWI and introduced courses in food technology. He established the Food Technology Unit and first Food Technology Laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago. He led research to develop new local food products and pioneered work on the preservation of local produce. He created a composite flour made from sweet potato and wheat, a sorrel drink, a canned fruit cocktail and “instant (dehydrated) yam” used in Barbados. In 1977, he was elevated to the rank of Professor in Food Technology.
Sammy was instrumental in establishing the Caribbean Institute of Food Science and Technology and assisted tremendously the National Foodcrop Farmers Association in educating farmers on preservation techniques to start small businesses. A nature lover, he founded the Trinidad and Tobago Tropical Fish Association and was an active member of the Orchid Society. He registered three new hybrids.
Professor Sammy received two national awards, the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) in 1974 and the Chaconia Medal (Gold) posthumously in 1988. He died on 11th July, 1988.