George Arthur Engstrom (1926 - 2014)

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  • "My condolences to the family. I knew George nearly 50..."
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George Arthur Engstrom died on Dec. 1, 2014. George was born to Gustav and Irene (Newman) Engstrom on Oct. 3, 1926, in Roundup, Montana. His family and he moved to Bozeman, Mont., in 1937 where he went through the local school systems, graduating from Gallatin County High School in 1944, from whence he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After completing his Navy service, he enrolled at Montana State College and later matriculated to University of Montana where he graduated with honors in 1950. He furthered his education and clinical training at the University of Denver where he received his Masters of Social Work.

He married his wife, Esther Lee (Davidson), in 1950 and together they had three children, Debra Irene Stephens, Jean Marie Steelman, and David Well Engstrom. It was a happy marriage.

George worked in various capacities in both the public and private sectors of human service programs in the Rocky Mountain States. He then went on to serve in administrative capacities in several federally administered programs in Washington, D.C., most notably as chief of program development for the U.S. Children's Bureau and as associate director and then director of the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research. His particular interest was in the rehabilitation of the chronically mentally ill and he lectured extensively on that subject both domestically and internationally. He received the first award given by the Government of Pakistan for advancing community-based programs for the mentally ill.

As an adjunct professor, George taught at New Mexico Highlands University, the University of Denver, George Washington University and Catholic University. He was a guest lecturer at The University of Lahore and the Prince Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, and at Nehru University in New Delhi, India.

George was a U.S. delegate to the United Nation affiliate, Rehabilitation International, for eight years. And as credentialed diplomat, he was signatory for a number of international agreements supporting research and demonstrations projects to enhance services to disabled persons. He was also a charter member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, an accreditation organization for the social work field. His legacy in social work is being carried on by his son, David, and his granddaughter, Kristin.

In 1988, George retired from federal service and he and his wife returned to Bozeman to live. They traveled extensively throughout the world but always returned to their home in Bozeman and their cabin overlooking the Gallatin River.

Locally, George served on the boards of the United Way, Career Transitions, and RSVP. He was a member of SCORE. He was active in the congregations of Methodist churches in Washington, D.C., and locally, and enjoyed his volunteer service at the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

As a man, George always felt duty and compassion for those who suffer. He was also a protector and perseverant of the land, and had community spirit embodied in him.

He loved his family and was fond of others around him. His life was full and his blessing many. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Esther Lee. He is survived by Debra Irene Stephens of Muskego, Wis., Jean Marie Steelman of Atlanta, Ga., and David Wells Engstrom of San Diego, Calif.

Any memorials one wishes to make, would be gratefully appreciated by the Meeting Place Clubhouse, Inc. of San Diego, 2553 State Street, San Diego, CA 92101, a rehabilitation program for persons with mental illness based on a model he helped develop.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.

Funeral Home
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-3184
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Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Dec. 7, 2014
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