Shortly after, George enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950, where he spent the next four years stationed in Europe and California, working his way up to staff sergeant. He earned an honorable discharge in 1954, after obtaining a National Defense Service Medal and a Medal for Good Conduct. After a brief stint working in Cincinnati, George found his way back to Detroit. In 1959, he got an entry-level job in the mailroom at Michigan Consolidated Gas Company. Being naturally analytical, along with his hard work and determination to provide a better life for his family, he quickly moved to data management where he contributed to the company's technological transformation from paper to mainframe, to personal computers and servers. He was the manager of information systems when he retired in 1994, after 35 years of service.
In one chance moment, a humble George met his one and only, Ellen MacDonald, a student-nurse at Providence Hospital School of Nursing, while standing up in his brother's wedding in 1960. George and Ellen married in 1961, and with a mutual belief in the beauty of a large family, were blessed with 10 children over the next 14 years. George's unyielding dedication to family, fatherhood, faith and friends helped him develop a true commitment to his community in East Detroit, serving as a youth sports coach, member of the St. Veronica School Board and St. Veronica Men's Club, and active parishioner at St. Veronica Catholic Church, where his children attended school. His lifelong passion for sports included years bowling in the Knights of Columbus Leo the XIII bowling league with friends, as well as an almost perfect attendance record at his many children's sporting events throughout their years at Notre Dame and Regina high schools. George also had a deep affection for the sports teams at the University of Michigan and spent numerous weekends cheering on the Wolverines.
George was meticulous in how he cared for the landscaping around his house, refusing to let anyone else cut his lawn until his later years. One of his other joys was getting up early Saturday mornings in the summer, scrambling a few dozen eggs, sizzling a couple pounds of crispy bacon and preparing French toast before cleaning and vacuuming his swimming pool so his children could enjoy it for the weekend. In his later years, George found vast enjoyment watching his children and 31 grandchildren find their own pathways in life. Fueled by his tremendous work ethic and desire to give back, George spent 20 years in retirement volunteering at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe (formerly Bon Secours Hospital). He also loved expressing his passions through social media posts about great music and decadent chocolate desserts. George was a humble, gentle, selfless, loving man who will be dearly missed by all who had the fortune of knowing him.
George is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Ellen; sons, Dr. Peter (Dawn), Dan (Jessica), John (Kim) and Joseph (Kelly); daughters, Debra Francis, Lisa Ayrault (Terry), Mary Kay Francis (John Jones), Ann Louise "Snip" Francis (Melanie Gilbert), Kristen Taylor (Bob) and Maureen "Mo" Krieter (Chad); 31 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. George also is survived by his brother, John (Nora); sisters-in-law, Rose Fischer and Sue Francis; brother-in-law, Bernard MacDonald (Carol); and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Rahmy, as well as his siblings, Joseph, Mary (Kouri), Louise (Brady) and Richard.
In keeping with the lifelong efforts of George to help those in need, memorial contributions in his honor may be made to The Capuchins, thecapuchins.org/.
Visitation takes place from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 27, and Monday, March 28, at Chas. Verheyden Inc., 16300 Mack, Grosse Pointe Park. He will lie in state Tuesday, March 29, from 11:30 a.m.until the time of his funeral Mass at noon at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 22412 Overlake, St Clair Shores. A livestream will be available on St Joan of Arc's Facebook Page and the livestream page of the parish website (livestream.stjoan.church).
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