Updated 22-XII-2018

William L. Enfield

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

The General Electric Fluorescent Lamp Pioneers

W.L. Enfield was born on Mar 26 1882 in Chase, KS. He attended Kansas State Teachers College, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1909 from Kansas State College.

Enfield started to work for GE on Feb 1, 1910 in the Engineering Department of the National Electric Lamp Association. He transferred into the Manufacturing Department in 1911 and then into the Special Engineering Department in 1913. He became Manager of the Lamp Development Laboratory in 1914. Enfield held that position until 1939, when he became a consulting engineer. He was in the role of Manager during the fluorescent lamp work. While he attended to administrative affairs, Harold D. Blake served as a technical advisor. His was also an inspirational role; he possessed a conciliatory voice when disagreements existed on lamp issues.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the founding of Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, Enfield was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1938. His character was such, however, that he didn't use the title "Doctor."

Enfield never took the credit for any development achieved in his group. He said - "No man ever invents anything by himself. Every invention is the result of the ideas and work of countless people." His philosophy might then be summarized with the following words: We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and benefit from those who stand next to us.

Enfield married and had two daughters. He died of a heart attack in his office at Nela Park on Mar 21 1945.