30 January 2006

One to Shoot For

Ever wonder how you'll be remembered? A stout obituary isn't a bad place to start. From the Saint Paul Pioneer Press of Sunday the 29th of January:

George (last name unnecessary for this posting) died 01/23/2006 Born 04/18/1922 In White Plains, NY, the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. He served in the south Pacific in the Navy 1942-1945. After WWII he attended the University of Illinois, where he earned a MS in Education and met the love of his life, Florence, the granddaughter of a Presbyterian minister. Despite opposition by both families because of their different religious backgrounds, they married in 1948. Their 57-year union, based on mutual respect, tolerance, and love became a model that many who knew them hoped to emulate. George taught junior high science until 1953, then became an engineer and moved to Minneapolis in 1957 to work for Honeywell. In 1958 he joined D.W. Onan and Sons, retiring in 1982. He was thorough and careful, loved problem solving and was not satisfied with a product until it proved reliable in the field. George had many interests and was a person who made things happen. He served as a member of the Columbia Heights School Board 1962-64. He was active during the Civil Rights movement of the mid-1960s. Throughout his life he sought to improve understanding between people of all races and religions. Since childhood, George had a great interest in electric railways and model railroading. He built his first model trains in high school, constructed a large HO gauge layout depicting his New York hometown, and was recognized by the National Model Railroad Association as a Master Model Railroader. He was a founder and president of the Minnesota Transportation Museum and volunteered actively until shortly before his death, building the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line and restoring five streetcars. He crusaded tirelessly for Light Rail Transit in the Twin Cities beginning in the 1960, presented educational slide shows on LRT to hundreds of civic groups, served on the Regional Transit Board 1987-89, and was a member of the Hiawatha Corridor vehicle selection committee. George loved travel and people. He took the family on train journeys around the United States. He joined Sons of Norway in order to learn the language; then went on to study German, Spanish, and Chinese and traveled to Europe, Asia and Australia. After doing extensive family genealogical research, he and Florence visited his parents' birthplaces in eastern Europe. As a life-long liberal, he supported environmental causes, and lived frugally according to his principles. He was an active member of Veterans for Kerry in 2004. Although a serious person, he was gregarious, optimistic, and energetic, even if he didn't always get the joke. He had an international network of friends and contacts and was respected by all who met him. He could fix anything, always read the instructions, and was impatient with those who didn't follow through on their promises. He loved classical music and was a good dancer, and friend and partner to Florence. As a father, he was strict but fair, and his sense of ethics was unimpeachable. George is survived by his wife Florence; son Aaron; daughters Virginia, Patricia; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Memorials should so to the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, Interment Fort Snelling.

I never knew or met George. The obit above is the first I heard of him, but he sure laid down the challenge to life a life fulfilled.

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