Norman B. Mears and the Re-Naming of a Park
|(Image from the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame site)|
Norman Mears (1904-1974), founder of the (at one time) Lowertown based technology pioneer Buckbee Mears Company (formerly a small graphic arts company co-owned by his father), is a 1993 Inductee to the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame (Geeky Blog Writer’s Note: I know – I never knew that was a thing either). He is best known for inventing the metal reticle (gun sights), for use by the Allied Powers with fire control instruments during World War II and the shadow (aperture) mask to improve the display on color television tubes.
In 1957 he became the company president and at one time owned 92% of its stock. At one point around 1966 his company's shadow mask was used in roughly 99% of the 5 million color TVs sold in the United States. The company doubled its sales from 1965 to 1966 and consequently went public in September of that year.
After Mears retired (shortly after the company going public), he turned a significant amount of his extra time toward to redevelopment of the Lowertown area. According to the Minnesota Inventors Web site he developed the Park Square Court and had a hand in the planning of all of the buildings facing Smith Park. In 1972 Mears was named "Greatest Living Saint Paulite" by the city's Chamber of Commerce.
In 1974, after his death, the former Smith Park was renamed Mears Park (after Norman) to recognize his accomplishments – both in business and for the Lowertown Area.