George L. Wallace Jr.

The Coast Guard veteran was a fly-fishing enthusiast who gave demonstrations at Eastern Shore outdoors shows

January 26, 2009|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,

George L. Wallace Jr., a Coast Guard veteran who was stationed in Hawaii in its early days of statehood and a longtime fly-fishing enthusiast, died of lung cancer Jan. 16 at his daughter's home in Arnold. He was 69.

Mr. Wallace was born in Baltimore to a seamstress and a mill foreman and grew up on North Robinson Street on the city's east side. In 1957, he graduated from Mount St. Joseph High School, and he joined the Coast Guard that year.

He was stationed in 1959 on the island of Kauai.

"He just always had a love of fishing and the water, just all things ocean," said his sister Patricia Wallace of Abingdon. "He was just thrilled to go through the Panama Canal. His ship was out of [the Coast Guard Yard at] Curtis Bay. He sailed through the Panama Canal and up across the Pacific to Hawaii. It was very exciting to get letters from him."

Mr. Wallace participated in canoe races and saw whales off Maui. After his three-year tour expired, he re-enlisted. In 1963, he left the Coast Guard as a quartermaster third class.

He returned to Baltimore and began working as a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning engineer and mechanic.

In 1966, he married Nancy Wiebking; their mothers had arranged for them to meet. Mrs. Wallace worked as a secretary and retired in 2001 as a court reporter in Howard County. She died that year.

The family eventually moved to Arnold. Mr. Wallace fished the ponds and rivers of Delaware and Maryland, and he gave fly-fishing demonstrations at the annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, which is in its 39th year this fall. He was also a longtime member of the Free State Fly Fishers in Annapolis and the Kent Island American Legion Post 278 in Stevensville.

"He was very good," his sister said of his fly-fishing hobby. "He was very patriotic and supportive of environmental issues, particularly those relating to the Chesapeake Bay watershed."

In 2001, he retired as a master steamfitter and as a 35-year member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 486. Four years after Mr. Wallace was widowed, he began dating again. He met Sylvia Thrower of Centreville, his girlfriend at the time of his death, at a Super Bowl party in 2005, said another daughter, Kathleen Gardner of Arnold.

"They would go to her beach house," said Ms. Gardner. "He would never let her go to his house. He said it was messy - a bachelor's pad. They would hang out and go fishing."

Services were held Thursday at Barranco & Sons Funeral Home in Severna Park.

Mr. Wallace is also survived by daughters Sharon Price of The Woodlands, Texas, and Deborah Wallace of Seattle; and five grandchildren.

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