On January 23, 2019 GEORGE McGIMSEY of Lutherville, MD; Las Docas, Chile; Oahu and Paauilo, HI; Berkeley, Ukiah, and Mendocino CA. In his career, he served as an urban planner for the Baltimore City Department of Planning and the Regional Planning Commission. He was a passionate leader, member, genealogist and scout master for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). He is survived by his brother Ben; daughters Heather, Lisa, and Paula; 8 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.
Funeral to be held Sunday January 27, 2019, 4PM at his church, 1400 Dulaney Valley Road, Lutherville, MD 21093. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the LDS Humanitarian Aid Fund.
Eulogy for George McGimsey
Today we honor and celebrate the life of George Brennus McGimsey. Born October 24, 1930 during the depths of the Great Depression to Fred McGimsey and Eunice Zeta Studebaker, they welcomed him to this world at Fort Bragg’s Redwood Coastal Hospital in Mendocino County, CA. His was a life of faith, living off the land, fun, fortune, and family.
Faith - complete conviction, trust, belief in something for which there is no proof and loyalty to God - is the core of George McGimsey life. Faith nourished and sustained George through thick and thin, through happy as well as challenging times - times that he called the “weeds of life.” He was guided by Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus’s parable of the wheat and tares.
In 1939 at the age of 9 George was baptized in Mildred’s Hole in the Navarro River, the river near his grandmother Studebaker’s farm, the same deep swimming hole where he taught himself to swim. A passionate member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, George was blessed with a gift for genealogy with 10,000 charts to his credit. He also frequently performed sacred rites at the Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Laie temples. From time of his baptism forward George’s daily devotion continued ‘till his passing.
Farm-to-Fork was the way-of-life and another important influence in George’s childhood. George and his family lived off the land. Even in his tender pre-school years he worked helping the family, learning valuable life skills. George’s first, his earliest memory was riding with his parents in the front seat of his dad’s Ford, a Model T pickup on their way to Pixley CA to work a small cotton and grape growing operation his father had rented. The family was leaving the beautiful, bountiful Anderson Valley, was forced off the irreplaceable McGimsey apple, pear, and plum farm when sales plummeted; a 1929 tractor loan taken out just prior to the onset of the Great Depression could not be repaid. The traumatic loss of the family farm started a cascade of stress and instability. All including George contributed to the family’s survival. As a little one, George helped pick cotton and grapes alongside his parents and his brothers.
In 1936 during first grade, George’s family returned to Philo in the Anderson Valley to live on his grandmother Studebaker’s farm. There George helped plow with a draught horse, plant, grow and harvest peaches, plums, oats, and vegetables - beans, corn, rhubarb, tomatoes, lettuce, turnips, beets, pepper, onions – in addition to many varieties of apples – Sierra Beauties, Baldwin, Greenings, Jonathan, and Rome. He was proud that the Anderson Valley apples always won top honors, the blue ribbon at the county fairs.
George and his family were blessed, reaping the rewards of their hard work - delicious farm-to-fork fare. George loved the foods he helped his family plant, grow, harvest, fish and hunt. From his grandmother and mother, he learned to make pies, butter, sauerkraut and to preserve food – drying and canning meat, fruit, vegetables.
Nothing tasted better than his mom’s and grandma Studebaker’s PA Dutch style cooking. George savored their homemade leavened breads, biscuits, shortbread, dumplings, salt cod stew, vegetables, tomatoes (he was called tomato soup by some since it was his favorite vegetable), venison, quail, squirrel, savory mincemeat pie, sweet pies and fluffy cobblers. George especially liked their lemon and blackberry pies and rock cookies. And of course, George favored the apples and grapes. Right up to the end, he snacked on grapes daily.
Living off the land, George also learned generosity and compassion. In their simple home in the leanest of times, the McGimsey’s fed their family and the less fortunate – feeding many hungry, desperate migrants.
Fun - amidst school studies and chores as a youth, George played too. He spent much time outdoors among the eucalyptus trees and magnificent redwoods, swimming, fishing trout, spearing salmon, and harvesting wild berries, nuts, and greens. His stomping grounds, Hendy Woods and the Navarro River, areas next to the family farm are now protected permanently in Hendy Woods State Park; the park is home to two groves of towering redwoods - trees that are more than 300 feet tall and are believed to be 1,000 years old. Cherishing nature and being in it was a life-long passion he passed on to his children and scouts in the LDS troop he later led in Baltimore.
He occasionally skipped grade school to explore, hiking the hills of Anderson Valley with his brother Larry; it was big fun despite the beatings, punishment their teacher meted out when they surfaced again at the one-room school house. Sleep-away camps for two summers offered more fun away from the farm. At home, he enjoyed sitting on the front porch watching chain lightning bounce across the mountains, cranking their telephone’s handle just to make all the phones on the Anderson Valley party line ring all at once (crazy-making for all valley neighbors!), singing with the family as Grandma Studebaker played her organ, reveling in the county fairs, and celebrating Christmas. He savored the oranges and nuts that filled his holiday stockings.
Fortune – abundance flowed from his fortitude, persistence, innate intelligence, and determination to make his own way. At age 10 in 1940 his family moved from Philo to Ukiah where George lived until he was 18. At Ukiah Elementary School, one teacher changed his life’s path - she encouraged his studies. George discovered he was an excellent student, learned easily, and received top honors. He was academically gifted. At Ukiah High School, the principal enthusiastically recommended that George attend college. Accepted at UC Berkeley he studied there from 1948 to 1953 earning his BA in Economics and then after a two-year stint in the Army, he returned to Cal from 1955-1957 to complete his MA in economics.
During high school and college, George showed more than academic aptitude. He demonstrated his ability to adapt to circumstance and to gain new expertise; he was a quick study. He learned skills and trades beyond agriculture:
- Door-to-door sales – his first job off the farm was selling Cloverine salve
- Food service - jobs as a dishwasher, soda jerk, short order cook, pie/candy/ice cream maker
- And more – working as a ditch digger, a lumberjack, a surveyor’s rod and chain man, a librarian
After completing his master’s degree George worked for 28 years in his chosen profession, Urban Planning - first for the Detroit Planning Commission from 1957 – 1961 and then with the Baltimore City Department of Planning from 1961 -1965, and then with the Regional Planning Council as assistant then deputy director until 1985. During the course of this career, he managed comprehensive renewal programs, land use studies and private-public transportation plans including ride-sharing and air quality improvement initiatives. Then from 1986 to 2006 George turned to new careers in real estate sales and real estate instruction working with Century 21, Merrill Lynch Realty and several local community colleges.
Family –George’s heart was first and foremost with family, first with his parents and siblings and then with his wife and children. While stationed at Ft. Holabird he met and married the love of his life Pauline Walters. At the LDS Baltimore ward, in services and at dances and on many long walks beneath romantic gas-lit street lamps George courted Pauline. She was delighted to meet her kind, intelligent, handsome Army and college man. Their attraction was immediate and on July 3rd, 1954 they married. In April 1955
their first daughter Lisa Michelle was born. Three years later the family grew with the birth of Paula Kaylyn in January 1958 and then grew again in April 1961 with the birth of Heather Lark.
Together with Pauline, they were dedicated to raising their girls and inspiring them to be independent, to be upstanding citizens, to be their best, to be happy, and to achieve their goals. They nurtured their daughters’ chosen pursuits – Lisa’s interest in art and debate, Paula’s interest in competitive tennis and Heather’s interest in gardening and self-sufficiency. All three earned college degrees – Lisa in business administration and finance, Paula in nursing and Heather in nutrition.
George also encouraged Pauline’s professional development, encouraged her to learn computer programing during the infancy of the cutting-edge high-tech computer industry in 1960. Pauline’s career flourished with George’s support.
On family road trips, on many cross-USA adventures they visited relatives, the national parks, Palmyra NY to attend the Hill Cumorah pageant, the Nauvoo and the Salt Lake City temples and many amusement parks.
George helped Heather weather the most stressful transition in her life, the move with her children from New Mexico to MD in 1993.
As empty nesters, George and Pauline continued their travels – frequently attending Pauline’s high school reunions in West Virginia. In 2008 they moved to Honolulu, HI, living in Waikiki overlooking the white sands and blue Pacific; they moved to be close to daughter Paula who managed their medical care. In 2011 after Pauline’s passing George moved with Paula and her husband to Hawaii’s Big Island to live in Paauilo on the Hamakua coast. In 2015 George moved again with Paula and her husband to Las Docas Chile near Laguna Verde. A year later in January 2016 he moved back to MD. Missing his mainland family, he was homesick and longed for the loving, doting care of his beloved daughter Heather.
Along the way George taught life lessons to his progeny. His wisdom appears on the back side of his memorial program.
Faith propelled George McGimsey through life, in the weeds and out, in trying and easy times. Timothy 6:12 inspired him to “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, where unto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” and also in 2 Timothy 4:7, paraphrasing it here, ‘he fought a good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith.’
On January 23, 2019 George Brennus McGimsey departed, left the earthly realm to join his heavenly Father and his dear loved ones beyond the veil. We love you always. You are forever in our hearts!
George is survived by his brother Ben McGimsey; daughters Heather, Lisa and Paula; grandchildren – Christian Armstrong, Justin Armstrong, Kevin Armstrong, Philip Heath, Adrian Mabe, Erin Tolman and Shan White; great grandchildren – Ethan Armstrong, Jackson Armstrong, Sierra Armstrong, Lilian Armstrong, Radius Armstrong, Aubrey Tolman and Deacon Tolman.
Special Thanks The McGimsey family thanks Christian, Justin, Kevin and Nathan Armstrong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Jones Falls Relief Society, James Clover, Robert Hale Jr., John Hickey, Kathy Catzen, LaChanda Jackson, Mark S Kawata, Martha Kamau, Adrian Mabe, Donna Miller, Elliott Petty, Eliza Petty, Shirley Tucker, Audra Rice, Dutch Ruppersberger III , Edward M Schaffer, Seasons Hospice, Jessica Sedgwick, Jasmine Stuart, Erin Tolman, Paul Vakalahi, Bobbie Whiddon, Lilly Walters and Shan White.