From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Weaver, Rufus Jack

(born: Mar. 8, 1927  -  died: Oct. 18, 2008) Rufus J. Weaver was one of the very few African American men from Kentucky to serve on a Navy submarine during World War II. He joined the Navy in 1945, first serving on "R-1." He was chief steward when he retired from the Navy in 1965.

Weaver was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Jennie Washington Weaver and George Weaver. Jennie was born in Alabama and her parents were from Georgia. She died February 9, 1929 when Rufus was two years old; the family was living at the rear of 1414 S. 10th Street in Louisville, according to Jennie Weaver's death certificate.

Rufus was raised by his father for a few years, then lived in a detention home before living with his grandparents for a couple of years until his father got out of jail. At the age of 14, Rufus struck out on his own. He married Margurite in 1965; the Weaver family lived in New London, CT. In 1968, he invented a stair-climbing wheelchair, U.S. patent #3,411,598.
This entry was suggested by UK Librarian Shawn Livingston. For a more detailed account of Rufus J. Weaver's life and military career, see his entry in Black Submariners, by G. A. Knoblock; Ken Johnson, "Shipmate Rufus Weaver" in the December 2008, p. 3 of Hooter Hilites [available online]; "Rufus Weaver: Stair-climbing Wheelchair" at the Lemelson-MIT Program website; photographs of Weaver aboard the Sea Owl at the 4000 Dive website; "Cavalla Crew Interview" at the Cavalla website; and his obituary at

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NKAA Source: Black submariners in the United States Navy, 1940-1975

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“Weaver, Rufus Jack,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-03 16:51:16