Joseph George

Obituary of Joseph Michael George

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Joseph M. George, who died on March 8, 2024 at age 98, was born in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania on October 13, 1925. He and his wife Catherine had been married for nearly 70 years. He was the seventh of eight children, and the fifth of five sons, born to Michael George, a coal miner and railroad laborer, and his wife Susan Attiyah George, both of whom were immigrants from Syria. As a child he developed a life-long love of fishing. He also enjoyed ruffed grouse and rabbit hunting. In high school he was a wrestler and football player. Brought up during the Great Depression, of which he retained vivid memories, he placed great emphasis throughout his life on working diligently and with gratitude for the blessing of having a job, living within one’s means, saving for a rainy day, and being compassionate and generous to those in need. A kindness done to him or a member of his family, however small, was never forgotten. In 1944, while still a senior in high school, he was conscripted to serve in the United States Army in World War II. As a member of the 264th Regiment, 66th Infantry Division—known as the Black Panthers—he was aboard the troop carrier Leopoldville when it was sunk by a German torpedo while crossing the English Channel. He was rescued from the sea by the crew of a British patrol boat and transported with other uninjured survivors to serve in the Normandy campaign and the St. Nazaire and L’Orient Pockets. There he suffered shrapnel wounds while under intense shelling by 88-millimeter German artillery. On May 10, 1945, then-Sergeant and Squad Leader George participated in the formal ceremony near Caudon, France in which 50,000 German troops under Lieutenant General Wilhelm Fahrmbacher surrendered to the 66th Division, led by Major General Herman Kramer. As a member of the Honor Guard for the ceremony, appointed by Colonel James R. Hamilton, his commanding officer whom he revered, he was handed a dagger and a side-arm by a German officer. He was transferred to the 42nd Rainbow Division and was among the soldiers who saw the concentration camp at Dachau which the division had liberated a few weeks earlier on April 29, 1945. Fearing that the reality of the Nazi camps would be disbelieved or denied, General Eisenhower had instructed commanding officers to ensure that American GIs serving in the vicinity of the camps witnessed their enormity. At the war’s conclusion, he was with the U.S. troops who marched through the Arc de Triomphe and was among those to receive the personal greeting of General de Gaulle. He served with the four-power occupation forces in Nuremberg, Germany and Vienna, Austria. He received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, and other decorations and was later made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honor of France and a member of the Order of Lafayette. After returning to the United States, he met Catherine, and the two married and settled in Morgantown, West Virginia. They became parents of five sons. He found employment as a sales representative in the wines and spirits industry, and later established George Associates, a brokerage and marketing firm. He also became a real estate developer in north central West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. He was co-founder of the Mid-Atlantic Control States Beverage Journal, published for West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina, He was a founding member of the Mount Morris Sportsman’s Club and was active in the VFW and served as post commander of the American Legion. As a boy, he had watched elderly Civil War veterans marching in Memorial Day parades. For more than seventy years, he himself marched in the annual Mount Morris Memorial Day Parade alongside his fellow veterans from conflicts stretching from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a member of several civic and fraternal organizations, including Toastmasters, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Rotary Club. He and his wife enjoyed dancing as members of the Beau Monde Club. He was also a member of the Johnson & Chesterton Club of Oxford, England, and was a recipient of the Club’s Edmund Burke Award. He served as an appointed member of the Monongalia County Condemnation Commission and the then-Monongalia General Hospital Property Board. Throughout his life, Joseph was a person of deep Christian faith. Brought up in the Antiochian Orthodox tradition, he was received into the Catholic Church as a young man. He and Catherine were parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Star City, West Virginia. Faith was always at the center of their family’s life. Joseph George is survived by his wife and his sons Robert (Cindy), a professor at Princeton University, Leonard (Rebecca), a businessman in Morgantown, and Kent (Georgette), Keith, and Edward (Andrea), all of whom are lawyers in Charleston, West Virginia, grandchildren David (Saniya), Rachel (Mark), Alexandra, Nicholas, Francesca, Hannah, Amanda, and Sarrah, and great-grandchildren Rayaan and Lily. He was a voracious reader, a trait he shared with his beloved sisters, especially of history, biographies, current affairs, and business. Known for his kindness, especially to anyone in need, cheerfulness, and exceptional gift for friendship, he loved to laugh and to sing. He is considered a “second father” by many, including William Porth, Pragnya Patel, Eduardo Vigil, Andrew Ostrom, David Russo, Nidal Makhoul, Patrick McGinley, Gordon Copeland, and Chuck Hempel. Modest about his own accomplishments, he was proud of his sons’ academic achievements. Among the five, they obtained seven graduate degrees from Oxford University, three from Harvard, and graduate degrees from Yale, the University of Chicago, and Emory, as well as undergraduate degrees from Swarthmore, Earlham, and Bowdoin. In 1985, he had the honor of receiving into his home in Morgantown Crown Prince Naruhito, who is now Emperor of Japan, for a two-day visit. The prince was a classmate and had become a close friend of Joseph’s sons Keith, Kent, and Robert when they were graduate students at Oxford University in England. Later, Joseph and Catherine were honored guests of then-Emperor Akihito at a dinner at the Japanese embassy during the Emperor and Empress’s state visit to the United States in 1994. Joseph George was also known for his exceptional courage. In 1967, with his young children watching in fear and awe, he rushed into a burning house to rescue a paraplegic man in a wheelchair. That he would unhesitatingly do such a thing was no surprise to anyone who knew him. There was a private burial service at the family cemetery in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania on March 14th. A public Memorial Service is being planned. Hastings Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements and online condolences may be made at
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Joseph George

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Joseph George

1925 - 2024

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