Sunday, August 25, 2013

George M. Withee

The earth is a little less bright this week. A great and gracious man, who treasured his privacy almost as much as anything else in his life, has been lost to us. George McClellan Withee passed away at the age of 91, peacefully in his sleep. He and his wife Esther were a second set of parents to my wife and her four siblings growing up in Pacific Grove, California. I only met them after Diane and I became involved but quickly became enamored of them both. To say that George valued his privacy above almost everything else is not to forget that his greatest treasure always was his wife, and his family. In writing my blogs I always sent a copy to George and he always sent me back a response, often a cartoon or a smile or a picture or a thought relating to a specific line in the text of what I wrote. It was always positive and encouraging. When Di had her car accident last December and I went through a period of anxiety that I could have lost her, George was always there for me, reminding me of the treasure I have in my wife. He lost Esther several years ago. In one note I said how grateful I was that I could tell my bride how much I love her; George quietly responded, he wished he could, every day. George was a member of the Greatest Generation, the men and women who endured the terrible war that still defines the humanity as a being, and from which, despite all their sacrifice, we still have not evolved. He was pilot of a bomber in the Pacific. His crew’s motto was, “Ragged but Right.” Like most of his fellows, he never talked about it. Yet he did write about it, at least once, in one of several selections collected for an anthology called “In Their Own Words.” I invite you to go to the web page,, and find his contribution, a poem called “The Ghost of Five Nine-Three. No wonder I liked him so much. And thank, you, George, for everything.

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