The family struggled through the depression years and in 1944, an 18-year-old George enlisted in the Navy. He was trained to be a diesel mechanic at schools in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Beloit, Wisconsin, before shipping out on a troop transport to the Philippines.
The war ended during his first voyage and George served out his military enlistment in the Philippines, having crossed the Pacific four times on a ship which carried 500 Marines home each time from Pacific engagements. He loved being aboard ship, but always said he was just a homesick kid who couldn’t wait to get back to his family.
By the time he returned home from the Navy, his folks had decided to move across the country, following his older brother who was already settled in Southern California. The six remaining family members – his parents, a younger brother Bobby and two sisters – made the long drive to Los Angeles. George was the only driver in the family and it was a long trip in a used car which had a top speed of 35 mph.
Once during the trip George tried to teach his dad to drive so that he could get a break occasionally for a nap or a snack, but when his dad nearly ran down a gas station attendant in Texas, he decided he would continue to handle the driving himself.
There were many stories of their adventures coming across the country and it was a time he loved to talk about. He would always be close to his younger siblings and they always admired him for taking charge of the Mellon migration.
Once settled in Los Angeles, George found work as a mechanic for a trucking company, a trade which would serve him for the remainder of his life. He also worked for Standard Oil Company in two different gas stations, resplendent in white uniforms and highly polished shoes.
He eventually owned his own station in Glendale, California, where he married his first wife and they raised their two daughters Debbie and Susie through the 50s and 60s. George sold his station in Glendale in 1967 and opened his own automotive repair business which he owned and operated until 1975.
He met Shelley in Carpinteria, California, in 1972 while he was struggling with alcoholism.
They married in 1980 but the battle continued to take its toll. While sitting alone in a car outside an AA hall in Burbank California on September 24, 1980, he prayed for God to help him, to free him from the destruction he lived with. And God intervened! By God’s grace and with the help of the principles he learned in Alcoholics Anonymous he became sober at the age of 54. He remained sober for the rest of his life.
In 1981 he and Shelley welcomed their son Matthew while living in Burbank, California, and while George was working the last of his mechanical careers for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In 1987 other family members had relocated to Oakhurst and after a fire destroyed an older home they were renovating. George took an early retirement and he and moved the family belongings into storage in Oakhurst and they left on an adventure to Alaska. They spent six months traveling and visiting his younger daughter Sue and her family on the Kenai Peninsula.
When George and Shelley returned to Oakhurst, they purchased property and built a home and another new chapter began. The family attended Oakpark Church of the Nazarene for many years and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Life was full of projects on their property and events at church.
George was at peace in Oakhurst. Matthew was a blessing he had never expected and each of Matthew’s activities was supported and encouraged by his proud and grateful dad. George kept busy with work at the Church, helping anyone who had a broken car or a project which was unfinished.
Sierra Pines became George and Shelley’s second Church Home in 2003. In 2004, George found himself employed again as a part time Museum Keeper at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. A perfect fit for him at the age of 77. After several years at the Railroad he retired again and spent his time enjoying home, grandchildren and Church activities at Sierra Pines.
On Sunday July 23, George slipped away from this life into the one promised him by his Savior. He is now fully restored in body and mind and is waiting for all of us along with his beloved family members.
George is survived by his wife Shelley, daughter Sue Weinert and her husband Dave of Coarsegold, daughter Deborah Underwood and husband Blake of Los Angeles, son Matthew and his wife Mary of Fresno. He has six grandchildren and two great grandchildren; another granddaughter April passed in 2006.
George loved his family well and we will miss his quick, easy smile and his laughter.
We thank God for blessing our lives with this wonderful man.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Sept, 23, at 11 a.m. at Sierra Pines Church in Oakhurst.