Monday, August 7
George was born and raised in New York City, although he spent part of his childhood in Dixon, Tennessee. He went to undergraduate and graduate school at Columbia University where he majored in Russian literature. After graduate school, he enlisted in the armed forces, serving in Europe during the last years of World War II. After the war, George went to Harvard for his Ph.D. He taught Russian literature at Harvard, Brandeis and the University of Massachusetts. He hated the politics of academia, but truly loved teaching.
George was well known at the CTC for the expletives he would utter on the court - his “Georgisms” as they were known. If George missed a shot he thought he should have made, he would yell at himself, never his opponent or partner. Some of the “Georgisms” we all remember are: my brain is fried, garbage brain, fish nose, out by a hair - a dragon’s hair, shucks on the wagstaff. And his dress was unique as well - because of a skin condition, George always played tennis with a long sleeve white shirt and full length white pants. He also wore custom made tennis shoes that looked like 1950's saddle shoes. George appeared as if he was still playing in the Bobby Riggs era and we loved him for it. Off the courts, George was a snazzy dresser - he loved clothes and was meticulous about his appearance. He particularly loved hats, and had a hat for every occasion.
If you did not know George and saw him walking down the street, you might think that he would not make it to the next corner. Yet, when he was on the tennis or squash court, George always amazed his opponents (particularly new ones) with how well he moved. On the court, George was tenacious and fiercely competitive. He had a totally unorthodox game, but until his early 70s, only the best club players could beat him.
Change was never easy for George. He was a creature of habit, who had to know he had a set game for the same time every week. George walked regularly, always along the identical route, except if he walked with a friend who might suggest a new path. He also was a voracious reader, who had an amazingly retentive memory and could discuss any of the thousands of books that he read. Books were piled everywhere in his apartment which, at times, looked like a library.
Unbeknownst to many, George had two interests which you would never guess - he loved to create jokes and to sing. In mid-life George also thought about changing his career. At age 50 no less, George auditioned with Stella Adler in NYC in the hope of studying acting! George also was an addictive smoker and had to constantly have a cigarette - not just any cigarette, though- it had to be Camels, unfiltered.
George lived for 25 years with his significant other, Fay. He also is survived by his brother, Jesse, sister-in-law Wilma, and two nieces. George was genuinely kind and considerate. He was also a true and good friend to many of us. We will miss him.
Court Conditions: Open and good. (Even court 5.)
Joe DeBassio Webmaster.