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George James Kalanzis


1919 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
George James Kalanzis Obituary
George James Kalanzis, 97, passed away peacefully at home in Greer, SC on September 5, 2016. George was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Marilyn; parents, Phadra and James Kalanzis; and siblings, Agatha, Nick, and Frank.
George met the joy of his life, Marilyn L. McCulloch, at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. They spent 49 adventurous years together after marrying in 1957. Marilyn and George designed multiple homes, started several enterprises, and travelled extensively throughout North America, mostly by automobile.
Born in 1919 to a family of Greek restaurant entrepreneurs, George graduated from Chattanooga High School in 1937. Upon completion of his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1941, General Motors hired George as a Methods Engineer. George packed his suitcase and boarded the train for Detroit. In the late 1940s, a former colleague convinced George to join Ford Motor Company's ambitious automatic transmission engineering team.
Spanning 25 years, George's career at Ford included various manufacturing management positions in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. During his assignment as Indianapolis Plant Manager in the mid-1960s, a Ford engine won the Indianapolis 500 for the first time. George fondly remembered his overseas trips to compare manufacturing processes with European auto manufacturers.
In 1973, Drexel Heritage Furnishing recruited George as Vice President, Manufacturing to drive innovation at its 19 plants. On the commute to and from his home in Hickory, NC and the office in Drexel, NC, George regularly made the acquaintance of North Carolina State Troopers patrolling Interstate 40. George and Marilyn retired to Flat Rock, NC in the early 1990s.
Fluent in Greek, George kept written correspondence with distant relatives in his parent's native Sparta. George visited those relatives on a trip to Greece late in life. A prodigious reader, a licensed pilot, a true gentleman, and a sharp dresser, George attributed his longevity to eating well and never exercising.
George is survived by daughter, Katherine Russell; grandson, Richard Russell and his wife, Stephanie; and great-grandchildren, Isabelle, Dylan, Anna, and Maria. A memorial service is scheduled for 3PM on Friday, September 16 at St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Flat Rock, NC. Memorial tributes may be made to St. John in the Wilderness.
Published in The Times-News from Sept. 12 to Sept. 13, 2016
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