Historical Marker #2475 in Burlington, commemorates the life of Dr. George Speri Sperti, a man responsible for many of the advancements in health and nutrition that we take for granted today. Dr. Sperti was born in nearby Covington on January 17, 1900 to George and Carrie (Speri) Sperti, who were both immigrants from Italy. Devout Catholics, the couple raised both young George and his older sister Mildred in Ft. Mitchell while the elder George worked as a tailor and owned and operated a dry cleaning firm in Kenton County.
George Sperti and young George would regularly travel to Burlington in Boone County to fish and walk the hills along Gunpowder Creek. In later years, Dr. Sperti would reminisce about finding a fishing hole where they would climb up a big sycamore to sit on branches that hung over the water.
After graduating from Covington High School in June 1918, young George enrolled at the University of Cincinnati to study electrical engineering. Sperti worked as a co-op student at Union Gas and Electric Company, and while still in school received his first big paycheck as an inventor in 1921 when he developed a device to measure electrical consumption.
In 1925 he was asked to establish the basic science laboratory of the University of Cincinnati. He became a nationally recognized figure in the scientific world and earned his Doctorate of Science from the University of Cincinnati in 1934. Sperti would go on to develop a sunlamp, an iodine wound ointment, and Preparation H. He also developed processes for irradiating foods, especially milk. The income from his commercial products financed the Institute, allowing him to charge no tuition.
As Dr. Sperti became more renowned for his research through the Basic Science Research Lab, he became close acquaintances with the Cincinnati Archbishop John T. McNicholas. The two men envisioned a combined research laboratory and graduate school founded on the ideals of St. Thomas Aquinas. Sperti ended his long standing career at the University of Cincinnati to open the Institute of Divine Thomae in 1935, thus beginning a complicated relationship with the Archdiocese that would last 18 years.
A lifelong dream to have a retreat of his own was fulfilled in 1932. For the sum of $2700, Sperti purchased 84 acres of rolling farmland, woods, and water on Gunpowder Creek in Burlington. George would go on to purchase additional property including the fishing hole where he and his father had spent many a sunny afternoon. His Boonetucky Farm would become nationally recognized for its champion cattle and the experiments conducted there.