George was 77, going on 78 when we met. He owned a firm that rather suddenly had become my client due to an emergency failure in their IT network – an emergency that lasted 20 years. A protégé of George’s at the firm would end-up becoming one of my best friends – a relationship that will last forever.
George was remarkable: full-bird Colonel on General Patton’s staff, DoD project manager for the implementation of the world’s first mainframe computer, editor of a military journal for decades, college teacher, business owner, founder of the Pachyderms – a group of folks with thick skins, a sense of humor, and a keen interest in politics and bourbon. But the thing I remember most about George was his gentle humble laugh. We sat for many conversations over the years in his glass office on Kirby Drive – always quiet, private, and interesting. Until just a couple years ago, George came to the office every day…wearing a tie and a smile, with a pipe in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He was a classic gentleman, old school. Every time we talked I learned something about life, the military, history, WWII, women, politics, the original mainframes, bourbon, or pipe tobacco. We never once talked business – his or mine. He had other things on his mind and I was interested in hearing about them. Making George laugh was a special treat for me – I’ll always remember that gentle sound.
In my life I’ve met a ridiculous number of remarkable people – there’s really no accounting for it. They make you say things about them long after they’re gone. George was one of the remarkables. He passed-away on Saturday and was laid to rest at Veterans Cemetery yesterday in a misty parade of friends walking behind his horse-drawn caisson through hallowed ground. He was 103. I hope all the remarkables will live to 103, continue to sit and converse with me, drink bourbon, and laugh.
Requiesce In Pace, George McDowell
April 26th 2017.
If you want to know more detail about George – the things he wouldn’t tell you – then you should read this entry in The Congressional Record of the U.S. Congress: https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2014/4/28/extensions-of-remarks-section/article/E606-2
This piece is called “George” because he was known to his friends simply, as George
Military funerals with the horse-drawn caisson, the parade of mourners, the 18-gun-three-volley salute, the preparation and presentation of the flag are simply overwhelming. The ceremony leaves you with a strange mix of emotions: pride, sadness, emptiness, and gratitude