George was born in the small Swillburg neighborhood in Rochester, NY in 1935. Soon after, his brothers, John and Bob filled the house on Diem Street. They went to St. Boniface Elementary School and then George went on to Monroe High School. He joined the US Navy in 1952 and served aboard the Antietam, stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After serving he came home and started working at Kodak. He met a nice Irish girl and in 1962 they married and bought a home in another tiny Rochester neighborhood: Charlotte. Eileen, Sean and Suzette all came along, and life was good! George and Colette never steered far from Charlotte, they were involved in Holy Cross Church and loved the community.
George was a physical presence as most people know, but he also had an infectious smile, loved to spin a good story and had endless knowledge about just about anything. It was always fun when George, Bob and John were together because the conversation always seemed to turn to the 50s and 60s and their mutual love of cars. Or, as George would say, John’s love of borrowing his car and then somehow managing to crash it. Bob would always sit back and giggle a little, making well timed comments to keep the laughter going but escaping too many “accusations”. There’s that story about tipping the TR3 over in Canada…??
Oh, and the euchre games! They were hilarious to play but perhaps even funnier to listen to. The laughter and the one liners were epic! “Spots count, you know!” and “She just trumped my ace…again!” could be heard from whatever corner of the house the kids and cousins were tucked away in – usually the basement! Being invited to the table was a right of passage in this family!
George always put his family first, always. He made sure that Eileen, Sean and Suzette had everything they could possibly need growing up and beyond. There was the amazing dead end street in Charlotte, where neighbors were family (and still are), there were the cottages in Cape Vincent where once again, neighbors became family (and still are). George always made sure that his family was happy, well taken care of and part of the fun. He loved to have fun! George was a great cook, he said he relaxed when he cooked so Colette let him relax all he wanted! Eileen, Sean and Suzette laughingly dreaded when he had to work the night shift and mom cooked. (broil does not get the dinner done faster…)
He was a wonderful grandfather. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and had a unique and special bond with each of them. He listened to their stories, told them wonderful tales, built Legos, had car races, played with dolls and had his hair done on more than one occasion. He quietly taught them so many life lessons just by being there and really knowing them. Nothing put a smile on his face quite like those five grandchildren.
He was a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a grandfather, an uncle, a friend, a cousin, a neighbor. He seemed to know everyone, everywhere he went. Colette would joke that sending him to Wegmans “to grab something quick” was useless; it would take him forever because he would inevitably run into at least one person he knew and stop to have a good chat. He always made time for the people he ran into; he was so genuinely interested in getting an update on their lives. He always came home with whatever she needed but also with a story about who he met and what that person was up to. She would laugh and tease him but, she knew when she sent him off on whatever errand it was that he would somehow turn it into an adventure.
And so, George will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He has left a mark on so many of us but now the stars are shining just a tiny bit brighter. For that, we are forever grateful.
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