Theodore J. George, 87, principal of Baltimore County junior highs

December 27, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Theodore J. George, a retired Baltimore County junior high school principal who founded a library of Greek Orthodox-related titles for his church, died Wednesday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson. He was 87.

Born and raised in Towson, he lived atop his father's confectionery store and sandwich shop on York Road. Mr. George was a 1935 graduate of Towson High School and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the Johns Hopkins University. He had another master's degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.

During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces as a radio operator on a B-24 bomber. He served in the Pacific and ended his military career managing a rest-and-recreation camp at Waikiki Beach, in Hawaii.

He began teaching social studies in 1948 at Kenwood Senior High School, then was principal of St. Michaels High School on the Eastern Shore. He then was principal at North Point, Catonsville, Loch Raven and Sudbrook junior high schools. He retired in 1978.

For four decades, Mr. George worked to build a library at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, which named the book collection in his honor in 1994.

"They were tearing down part of the cathedral to expand the Sunday school program, and it started to rain as I was walking by," he said in a 1994 Sun interview. "I saw a pile of books the workers had put atop some rubble. I ran through the rain, threw them in the trunk of my car and took them home. These 13 books had to do with the history and dogma of the Orthodox faith. I thought to myself, 'Here's the beginning of a parish library.' "

Mr. George was a voracious reader. "We had to keep building bookcases," said his wife of 54 years, the former Gloria Georgopulos. "He kept at least 1,500 books at home."

In The Sun's interview, Mr. George recalled that he could read before he went to school and that his passion for the printed word began when he was about 5 years old.

"I wouldn't stop reading. When I was supposed to be in bed sleeping, my parents saw light coming from under my bedroom door, so I put a towel there. When the light came through the keyhole, I hung a shirt over the back of the door," he said. "After they caught on to that, I'd make a tent out of my covers and sit under it with a flashlight. Then they gave up."

He said that when he made a little money working at his father's store, he would spend it on books. He read every night for an hour before bed. "Reading unwinds me, no matter what I've been through," he said.

For his work with ecumenical activities, he was awarded the 1974 Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

He was a lifetime member of the National Educational Association, the Teachers Association of Baltimore County and the Maryland State Teachers Association. He was a past president of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, at Maryland Avenue and Preston Street.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, James George II of Asheville, N.C.; a daughter, Tessa George Dunn of Charlotte, N.C.; a brother, Harris James George of Towson; a sister, Beulah Georges of Towson; and five grandchildren.

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