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Our beloved father, grandfather, and great grandfather, George Bernard Wildridge, Jr., passed away peacefully on July 28, 2021 in Phoenix, AZ. Born on January 29, 1928, George was 93 years old. He had a very long and productive life.
George was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1946, and met Norma Lee Cannon (“Lee”), a Baltimore native, at a USO dance while stationed at Ft. Meade, MD. George walked Lee home from that dance, encountering Lee’s very strict mother upon their arrival. He won not only Lee’s heart that night, but that of her mother, by asking whether he could accompany them to church the following morning.
After his military service, George received his undergraduate degree from Humboldt State College in Arcata, California. George and Lee were married in San Francisco on Christmas Eve, 1948. They loved their time together as newlyweds in California, which was full of adventure. It was while there that their first child, Geoffry (“Jeff”), was born.
George and Lee settled in Buffalo, NY after his college graduation. It was in Buffalo that his second child, Allison, was born.
George worked as a public school teacher for many years in the Buffalo area, most notably in Amherst, NY. He was an excellent and creative teacher, who took great pride in his profession.
As a result of his teaching excellence, George was granted a sabbatical leave by his school district in 1963. This resulted in an education-oriented 6-month trip throughout Europe and the Middle East—with Lee and their two children, Jeff and Allison.
George chaired the teacher’s salary committee for the Amherst Central School District, and was credited with a breakthrough in negotiations with the administration that resulted in lasting improvements to teachers’ salaries and benefits. In 2019, the Amherst Central Schools Alumni Foundation honored him with its Distinguished Educator Award.
George Wildridge received his master’s degree in education from the University of Buffalo. George, Lee, and their family—which had now grown to include the twins, Trey and Bill, and “the caboose,” Drew—moved from Buffalo to Syracuse in 1968, where he was employed as an analyst by the Eastern Regional Institute for Education. Thereafter, George became a school administrator in several communities in Upstate New York, first as an elementary school principal, then as an assistant superintendent of schools, and finally as a superintendent of schools.
Following his retirement as a school administrator, George returned to his first love, teaching—this time at the private Manlius-Pebble Hill School in Syracuse, NY. In 1991, George and Lee fully retired and started their next adventure together, moving to Sun City West, AZ.
George was a Master Mason and a Shriner, a Rotarian, a member of the American Legion, and was civically engaged throughout his life. He was very active in the Sun City West community. He was especially involved with the Metal and Woodworking Clubs in Sun City West, honing his impressive skills as a craftsman, and serving as president of each. George was credited with “really knowing how to run a meeting” during his times as president of those organizations. He made many friends, who are still of the opinion that “if you couldn’t get along with George, you couldn’t get along with anybody.”
George Wildridge had a big and loving heart. He was a great father, who was always available to provide help and support to his children. For this, we will be eternally grateful.
George B. Wildridge, Jr. was predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Norma Lee Cannon Wildridge, in 2015; by his father, George B. Wildridge, Sr.; his mother, Rena C. Wildridge; his brother, Grinnell “Pat” (Muriel “Mim”) Wildridge; and his nephew, Grinnell “Bruce” Wildridge.
He is survived by his five children, eleven grandchildren, and one great grandchild: by Geoffry B. (Carolyn) of Fairbanks, AK—Diana (Alec), and Owen Wildland, of Fairbanks, AK, and Zoe of Scottsdale, AZ; by Allison (Marion) of Williamsburg, VA; by George B. III “Trey” (Susan) of Hamden, CT—George B. IV, William N. IV, and Page of Hamden, CT; by William N. III (Pamela) of Syracuse, NY—Sarah of Savannah, GA, and Laura (Alexander), Peter, and Ryan of Syracuse, NY; and by Andrew C. (Jill) of Phoenix, AZ—Sydney and Megan of Phoenix. He is also survived by his brother, Gregory B. (Kathryn ”Bunny”) of Lancaster, NY; and by many nieces and nephews.
We wish to extend our thanks to those who assisted Dad in his final months and days—the home healthcare providers, hospice workers, other caregivers, and his generous and kind friends. You made it possible for him to live out his life on his own terms, which was of the utmost importance to him.
We’ll miss you, Dad.