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. Occasionally, we talked business. But 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.
Veterans Cemetery in Houston, Texas – 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 immense gratitude