Plutonium Injections – Patient HP-11

This biography is in honor of one of the patients that were injected with plutonium in Rochester, NY during WWII.

Harry W. Slack was born 29 Jan. 1877 in Waterloo, NY as the only child of Edward and Adelia (Cooper) Slack.

Harry enlisted in the Army 17 June 1898 in Rochester, NY for the Spanish-American War. He served as a Private in Co. A in the 3rd NY Infantry. He was discharged on 30 Nov. 1898 in Rochester, NY.

Harry married on 22 Aug. 1900 in Rochester. She was known as Louise in many Rochester city directory records but the online Rochester marriage index says that her name was Minnie F. Colby of Alexander, NY. Her parents were listed as Frank E. Colby and Alice Nelson.

Going through the Rochester directories there are many times when Harry and Louise are not listed and they seem to move around Rochester often. Plus Harry’s occupation changed almost as often. He is a grocer on his marriage record, driver in 1898, clerk in 1902, actor in 1904, ticket clerk in 1912 and a driver again in 1914. Then from 1917 to 1924 he is working for a railroad; first as a baggageman and then as a messenger. By 1930 Harry and Louise have moved to the Sea Breeze area of Irondequoit, NY. From 1935 to 1946 they would be living at 99 Lake View Ave. in Sea Breeze.

Harry's tombstone

Harry's tombstone

When Harry was admitted to the hospital, his records state that he was a janitor at the YMCA suffering from malnutrition, alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver. He was injected on 20 Feb. 1946 with .398 microcuries of plutonium at Strong Memorial Hospital. That is 56 times the radiation that a person would receive in a lifetime. Harry was the last of the patients that were injected in Rochester and he lived the shortest amount of time after the injection. Harry died on 26 Feb. 1946 at aged 60 of bronchopneumonia. He is buried in a veteran’s section of Irondequoit Cemetery, Irondequoit, NY.  His obit in the newspaper says he leaves a wife, Louise.