George Kirschner
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KIRSCHNER--George. Beloved grandfather and greatgrandfather, father, husband, teacher and friend will be remembered for his contagious smile and energy, unwavering principles, profound sense of justice, unequivocal commitment to activism, and open and welcoming heart. Born in New York City, George served in the US Coast Guard during WWII. He began as a brewer, later went to college, and found his professional love as a teacher of history at the Walden School in New York City. He is survived by his children, Carl and Sandy, his grandchildren Emily, Jessie, Jonathan and Amanda, and his great-granddaughter Mia. Funeral services are private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Doctors Without Borders.

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Published in New York Times on Dec. 17, 2008.
Memories & Condolences
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42 entries
December 12, 2019
It's really beautiful rereading some of the remembrances - and there are so many! - of George that people wrote ten years ago. Its wonderful to see a vivid personality so vividly alive in so many minds. How great to be able to do so much for so many people and how great to have had somebody like George in your life. I remember 13 and 17, and the years in between, a lot more viscerally than most near-decades in my life. My daughter is almost 18 now. It's hard to step back. But to remember George, and the rare teachers and grownup friends from those days who made that special mark, is to remember that there are others who will love her and be interested in her; who will notice and bend their minds to cultivate hers; who will be impatient and patient with her out of respect for her; who will grapple with her humming spirit not because they love her best, but because of who she is automonously. I know she has this and will always have it because Ive met a couple of the Georges in her life. Theres something about his generosity, above everything else, his eagerness to reach you, and his unflagging confidence that reaching you was important - that eclipses, slightly, all his other wonderful qualities. Plus he was so much fun. Now that Nellie is almost grown up, I feel doubly grateful to George because I know her best teachers are miraculously engaged with her the way he engaged with me, and at a moment in her life when I'm usually not allowed in her room.
Kenny Lonergan
September 4, 2011
It's been 40 years since I last saw George and I have forgotten many things in the last 40 years but George is not one of them. He exemplified a rare combination of passion, commitment, humanity and smarts. He was a fantastic teacher who answered a difficult question; why is history relevant? I hovered around him just to try and better understand his values and of course because he was that much fun. Much love to you George, and your family.
Lise Zumwalt
August 25, 2011
George, your love shines forever in our lives. Always, you're there when I'm teaching class. And though the language is foreign, the subject different, perhaps your light reaches some of the students too, and you live on.
Remi Smith
May 25, 2011
George was my best teacher at Walden; you knew he cared. I still remember my 11th grade History of American Labor class with him as if it were yesterday. What a lovely and kind devoted man. Love, Eyton Soltes, San Diego, CA www.bodymindwellnesscenter.com
Eyton Shalom (Soltes)
January 30, 2010
To Barbara Lee Walden -- absolutely.
And to all the students who went on our weekend with George to spend time with Howard Zinn -- what a great pair they are.

Carole Weiss, music teacher
January 29, 2010
George and Howard Zinn are at the great big protest in the sky. Barbara Lee Walden '84
Barbara Lee
January 28, 2010
I miss George today, as Howard Zinn passed away last night, and I feel that I lost a relative, as we were related to Howard through George. Love to all, Joan Bragar, '72
Joan Bragar
January 20, 2010
George, you touched all our lives. You gave history dimension and really brought it to life. I think of you often, even after all these years. Thank You! Gerda Swedowsky Walden '74
December 24, 2009
Alumni such as myself, Roy John Smith, Walden'73, Harvard'80 and NYU School of Law'84 and Ramon Morales, Walden'72, Harvard'76 were born and raised in public housing developments while blessed to have George as a teacher, mentor and friend. Palante
September 11, 2009
As somebody who had two parents, two stepparents, and an uncle who were American Historians, I admit I came to George Kirschner's class with no desire to have anything to do with history. And then again...I was fascinated by this big, burly, wise, strong, older man who seemed to have little interest in the professionalization of historical study that was so endemic to the adults in my family.

He approached history as if it mattered and as if we--a tiny group of privileged, immature, Manhattan kids--mattered. He made it matter. That was something remarkable and special that neither I nor anybody who took his class will ever forget.

Now that I am also an educator I can see what an incredibly difficult task it must have been to make the classroom matter -- even for somebody with George's energy, passionate committment, and burly wisdom. George was a remarkable man and if it could have come naturally to anybody, it would have been him. But I suspect he thought long, worked hard, and sacrificed lots of his precious time to make our classroom matter. His influence is a key part of why I became an educator. His example is one that I have always tried to emulate.

The word that comes to mind when I think of George Kirschner is life-force. He had a remarkable life-force that touched so many people and added so much to this world. It will be missed. Though I hadn't seen him in more than twenty years I can feel that the world is diminished by his absence, but not nearly as much as it was added to and humanized by his presence and the legacy he has left behind.
Anthony Marcus
April 1, 2009
I miss you, George, and like Kenny, I owe you a phonecall.
I'm so glad I got to know you and to have a taste of all that you had to offer. The lasagna you made for Cal's going away party at my house, the big pot of spaghetti you made for us on the Boston trip. But it was you, not the pasta, that was the main course. A man of substance who touched and taught us all, students and teachers alike.
I was just going to call you to see if we could get a group together around the upcoming Howard Zinn event at the Y. I think you'll be there in our hearts and minds anyway.
Love to you and yours...

Carole Weiss (Walden music teacher and union member)
Carole Weiss
March 7, 2009
sandy, if you lived in the quanson hut (oil drum) down the road from the camp, then i remember you. didnt know your father was your dad but my mother and father, April and Garry newman, made sure midvale hosted our best childhood memories. Wings, Antwan, Memosa, and Sandy are the names i remember. my dad passed but my mom is here in new york with me. Im looking to visit the camp again this spring as i did a few years ago with dad.

please contact me
Dexter Newman
February 4, 2009
Like many others who have written on these pages, I was a George Kirschner groupie. I loved his classes at Walden. I took as many as I could, and went on every trip going. Two trips to work on a farm in Vermont (where we got to see him fall asleep reading a newspaper, with his arms and the newspaper miraculously held up in the air as he snored), a trip to Boston, countless coach rides to DC to attend demonstrations. I loved his stories and his ideas and his warmth. Whether it was a “fishing with Manny” anecdote or an imaginative course – like Faces of War, a semester long study of war films. Thanks to George, I spent lots of time during those years in libraries, reading newspaper archives or interviewing someone’s grandparent about the depression or the Holocaust.

How endlessly tolerant he was with us! How did he put up with us? He treated us like adults, he enjoyed our company, we had fun together. Others have said it: George opened our eyes and taught us to look at history, and the world, from the bottom up. But it’s not just that. Unlike many others - including on the left in that period - George was not sexist or homophobic. These days, that may not seem like a lot. But looking back, I think it’s unusual and wonderful for a man of his generation. It makes me appreciate him even more. I love open-minded old people. And George was that, in spades.

George was my first grown up friend. My very first fall break from college, I came back to Walden to go out to lunch with him. From that lunch, our adult relationship began. I got to know Ethyl better, and over the years, met friends and family in Brooklyn and New Jersey. I still make George’s sorrel soup, and my children always start puzzles the way Ethyl taught them to. A part of our time together was always spent catching up on Walden people. Of everyone he knew from the school, I think he was most impressed by the student who ran off to join the circus.

I went on to major in history at college and in my senior year, I was lucky enough to get a job working with Alger Hiss on his memoirs. Alger was in his 80s and his eyesight was failing. He needed someone to type his handwritten manuscript and read it back to him. Working together, we discussed the book, and his life. Thanks to George, I have solved a major question in American political history: Alger Hiss was no communist! Compared to George, Alger was just a mainstream, old fashioned New Dealer. Any time I brought up one of George’s questions about the 1930s and 40s, Alger looked truly shocked at my radical viewpoint. (Did Roosevelt have advance knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbour, but did nothing to stop it as he knew the attack would win popular support for entering the war? And why didn’t Roosevelt bomb the concentration camps anyway?)

What a lot of wisdom George and Ethyl imparted. Ethyl once said something to me in the Reagan years that I often repeat to myself, “I always thought it had to get worse to get better. But it just seems to keep getting worse!” There is a lot of sense to that – don’t imagine any good will eventually come of things getting worse, don’t be naïve enough to think of that as a strategy.

Say this to yourself, in George’s strong Brooklyn accent: “it’s better to be a rich communist than a poor capitalist”. Doesn’t that sum up George’s world-view? Be politically committed, but also, enjoy life.
Natalia Schiffrin
January 31, 2009
I knew this man by the name of Uncle Georgie, my grandmothers brother. He was the first person i ever saw stick a string of spaghetti through his nose and into his mouth. He would often come to california once a year and i would always make a special effort to see him or at least have my mother put him on the phone. I even saw Georgie in the stands at several sporting events of mine when i was much younger. Great guy. Hillarious. Smart. However, when he was around, i never once heard him discuss history.Miss you Uncle Georgie, and condolences to all.
Anthony Hazard
January 28, 2009
After reading some other entries, I am speechless. I wish I were there to hear the moving commemerations spoken...Walden in and of itself was so special in that I learned how to 'learn' without anxiety and pressure and with the enthusiasm and passion that I can now apply to my own field of mental health. George was so obviously extra special in his loving ways (even when teaching Holocaust class!) and endless storytelling (and i never daydreamed during them!). I just wanted to add my excerpt as well. Jill Greenberg
P.S. I thought I had done this last month, but it is missing...??? or will i find it on facebook twice? WE shall see!
Jill Greenberg Sirum
January 25, 2009
I hope that my children have the good fortune of having a teacher that inspires them as much as George inspired us. God speed George. With love and gratitude Megan Dee
megan dee
January 22, 2009
I have been thinking about George constantly since he passed away. I always knew that he deeply effected my life, but his being gone has highlighted how present he is in me. I came to Walden from a public school and social studies class where questions were not asked. When I walked into George’s room my whole world opened up. I recall my first lesson from George vividly. He passed around various text books and had us read about the same historical event in the different books. What was so striking was that they were all written about in exactly the same way. Then out came Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”. I learned from day one and all the way through with George, that history can be viewed in a multitude of ways and that we had to ask questions all the time. I carry that lesson around with me everywhere, asking why about everything.

George touched me in so many ways. I have so many memories. I remember the exhilaration of swimming in springtime with him in an icy cold quarry on our farm trip in Vermont. I remember him saying, as he slinked into the frigid water that made my young heart flutter like crazy, my pills for my heart are in my shirt in the right pocket (a phrase he frequently said on that trip). George really lived and would not have missed that dip for the world. I remember an oral history assignment for his class where I interviewed my grandmother and would never have known things that she told me if it were not for him. I remember the glee in his face after our “open forum” graduation when Howard Zinn invited a heckler parent (who took offense to his speech on civil disobedience) to speak, following it up with an impassioned retort. I remember visiting George in New Jersey with Natalia and his showing us his FBI files and him telling us “I’m disappointed, all that work and they’re not thicker.” I remember the amazing bisque soup he made for my husband and me in Fanwood, NJ. We thought we would take him out to lunch, but instead he had prepared a beautiful meal for us. I remember tagging along to a 90th birthday party with him at the Esplanade and really having fun (the last time I saw him).

I will greatly miss George’s idealism, passion and sense of humor. Fortunately, he was such a great teacher that he imparted them all to me.
Wendy Missan
January 19, 2009
I can't say enough about George. He was a deeply generous and open man who answered all your questions happily and eagerly and was a teacher AND a friend. The days I spent going through and organizing 8 mm footage of WWII in his office with him are very vivid to me. I also recall he and Howard Zinn showing up to our graduation hilariously spiffed... I loved him for that and the seemingly endless amount of time he would give to you. I miss him.
Garrett Ward
January 19, 2009
I think we were one of the few high schools where Howard Zinn was assigned reading.
George was a great teacher.
Susan Adler
January 8, 2009
I hadn't seen or spoken to George in a long, long time, but I still carry vivid memories. Of him yelling at me, turning off his hearing aide ("I can't hear you Tanzer"), of some frighteningly dangerous driving during a trip to Boston. He gave me a great framework for understanding history, starting with the idea that "there is no such thing as the national interest," only various competing interests. His students were all fortunate--I don't run across many people who got to use Zinn for their American History textbook. I recently gave a copy to a friend who became a U.S. Citizen. And thought of George...
Ken Tanzer
January 7, 2009
I am so sorry to hear that Georgie is gone. I was looking forward to seeing him once again at our annual Camp Midvale reunion in July. My dad Max and George were comrades. Like his children I am proudly a red diaper baby. I will never forget when George stayed over my house in East New York Brooklyn, Cleveland Street, in the early 1950s during the height of the McCarthy period. Like my dad, George never renounced his ideals, his commitment to peace and justice and fierce resistance to imperialism. In my dad's last years we always paid a visit to George and Ethel when we went to Camp Midvale. George has left a rich legacy to future generations in his teaching and wonderful collaboration with Howard Zinn that illustrated the history of parallel and intersecting struggles of exploited and oppressed people. And he was a great cook and bon vivant! Georgie Kirschner Presente!
David Schwartzman
January 5, 2009
Carl and Sandy, I had hoped to see your father at the Camp reunion last summer. He and I had last talked when I was helping pack up my parents home for their move from Ringwood to British Columbia in 1994. We had a discussion about the history of the Camp, and I began to see why my nephew Seth had been so taken by him, as were his many students.
The last time I was actively around the Camp was the summer of 1961, when I was the head life guard. I know that I taught one or both of your Aunt Tobey's kids to swim. That may have been before your father launched his teaching career. After that I only returned for occasional visits to my parents.
Everyone has talked about what an inspirational teacher your father was, I also remember him as a first rate cook. My mother, no slouch in that department herself, did not readily dispense praise, but acknowledged his skills in that arena. In the period after I had left home, it seems to me, that a group of the more permanent residents around the Camp would occasionally do a big meal together.
I really wish that I had gotten to know both your parents better than I had. Certainly, your father was one of the good guys.
Maybe it is my older brother Michael and I getting nostalgic but the notice of your father passing triggered a lot of reminiscences for us. So just today we began talking about a trip together back east - not this year, but, perhaps late spring or early summer 2010. We'd visit the neighborhoods we had lived in as kids in Newark, and, of course, the Camp.
Henry Klein
January 4, 2009
The last time I saw the late great George K he told me "I never went anywhere Uncle Sam didn't send me"; it was a great line, classic Kirshner. Well, he's shipped off now, which is a damn shame. The good news is that he had a twinkle in his eye to the very end, and he knew he was loved. Loved deeply, by many, and deservedly so. What a guy...

I feel lucky to have been able to be among those he touched, taught and tussled with. I doubt he could ever have known how much he helped me, or how great a role he played in my life. I'd bet that most of you reading this know just what I'm talikn' about though. What a guy...

Thanks to you George, and thanks to all those around you who tried to give back a little of what you gave them when you needed it. That was a big part of the lesson you taught us, and I promise I won't forget it.

Peace and love,
W.
Chris Wangro
January 3, 2009
George Kirschner
In celebration of his life,
A gathering of family and friends.

Sunday, January 18, 2009.
Noon to 3 pm.

250 W. 94th Street Apt. 16A
Sandy Reider
December 20, 2008
I owe George a phone call. He called me about six months ago and I didn't call back yet. I saw a lot of him in the fall of 2005, and Matthew and I took him out to dinner around then. I already didn't like the way he looked thinner and frailer. In my memory he is the picture of robust energy, a big, stocky, even beefy man with ears that stucjk out and the thickest Brooklyn accent there is. I hate to use the words passion and vitality because they have acquired such a nauseating aura but what other words can you use to describe George's passion and vitality?

He was certainly one the sweetest most generous people I've ever known. The first class I took from him was 8th grade American history and the first thing (as I remember) he had us study was a pair of campaign speeches of Lincoln's, to show us that Lincoln's anti-slavery remarks were considerably toned down or softened or even eliminated depending on his audience. I no longer find this shocking, and I don't remember whether George's point was that Lincoln was a hypocrite, a liar, or a politician trying to get elected ( I suspect he meant all three.) And if I did not then and dont now agree with him on the first two points, the third is undeniable and instantly changes the 8th-grade god Abraham Lincoln into a human being who really lived and equivocated and managed the circumstances and controversies of his time just as people have always done up to the present moment. I suspect George was trying to puncture the myth of Lincoln but the better thing he did was vividly show Lincoln as a man running for office - which allowed us to learn about him as a man of his time and not a mythical personification of virtue and goodness. This amazingly effective instantaneous humanizing for a bunch of 13-14 year olds of a revered icon got you thinking of history and politics now in terms of men and women with minds and emotions, what they thought and what they did and what they said, and for me at least, has been the basis of my thinking about history and current events of which I know nothing personally, ever since.

He loved to show you how supposedly great men were actually scheming hustling and selfish , but he had his own naive love and faith in figures that tended more toward his own socialist philosophy. I recently had a conversation with a very famous very brilliant woman in her 60s or thereabouts, who contended that Lincoln was a liar and didn't care about slavery and made no bones about it. I had a long argument with her that this was not in my opinion the case - and after an hour or so of friendly arguing I said You're just mad because he didn't turn out to be what they told you when you were five, and she said Yes! And I said that's not his fault and doesnt make him a fraud - the point of the story being that when I was 14 my history teacher had already driven it home to me that no great public figure is what he's made out to be to little kids (and many grownups), and that my whole adult life it never occurred to me to idolize anybody I didn't know or then condemn them for being less than an idol - because I learned history from George.

I know this is long but why not? You don't lose George Kirchsner every day. The other, equally important, simple lesson he taught us - and whether this was from 8th or 11th grade American history I don't remember. Nor do I remember the specific example he used; but he hammered and hammered at the point that when you read a book of history, of politics, of reportage, you should know something about the author, the times he lived in, and his point of view: In short, "What is the FRAME OF REFERENCE?" What is the frame of reference of the person writing the book?
There's an old tag that says historians always reveal more about the time in which they are writing than the time they are writing about. But again, this simple guide has proved infallible to me, and I'm sure to others, my entire adult life. History is not just about real people, it is WRITTEN by real people. So I am horrified and shocked when my college age niece quotes a hard-and-fast fact that she knows because she read it in a book. It is obvious after a while, listening to anyone, kid or adult, expound on any subject (particular subjects they have no personal knowledge of) that there opinions are largely fashioned by their personal likes, dislikes, and upbringing, and much less so by their experience with the subject at hand, or whatever gift of insight they might have. I don't see how it could be any other way, and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, but it's certainly the truth, and very handy to remember when you're trying to learn anything or read anything or think about anything for the first, second, or millionth time.
Knowing George's frame of reference made me temper in my mind many of the things he taught me, many of the things he thought. But he's the one who introduced me to that idea and without that idea always in your mind
I don't see how you can even read a book and have a full sense of what you're reading.

But I have to say that even more than as a teacher I loved George when he was off-duty telling stories about his life.
He told us stories about his days in the Navy, about the ice-man delivering ice to his apartment when he was a kid, about being part of an impromptu bodyguard of men to protect Paul Robeson after he had received death threats before giving an outdoor concert. I liked his story about having been without sleep for two days during the war, as his ship was crossing the mediterranean, and falling asleep on duty during a German air attack, the story ending with something like this: "Then later on I heard everybody saying "George has nerves of steel. He slept through the whole attack with bombs going off right over his head. But I didn't have nerves of steel, I was just so Goddamn tired I couldn't keep my eyes open."

I loved his partial deafness because I loved it when he would miss something and then turn and yell "WAT?"
I loved his high pitched voice when he said things like "Think about the implications of what you're SAYING." with the "saying" rising up into the upper octaves. I loved that he usually addressed the boys by their last names - very unusual, unique actually, I think, for Walden. "LONergan!" "BARsky! What do YOU think?"

I loved his friendliness and his love of humor and his non-authoritarian attitude to the screw ups latenessess lies and stonedness of his teeenage flock. You could really make him laugh and you knew he was interested in you, and he was never anything short of absolutely genuine. There are very few people who are so open and warm and good natured that they inspire the kind of love and respect and sheer liking from nearly everybody who gets a share of their time. I loved that you could meet him years after graduating and just pick up the conversation from anywhere.

My immediate reaction to the news of his death was a terrible sadness and then a feeling that a big hole had been rent in the world that could never close. If anybody ever got the love and devotion they deserved from life it was George. I know he had a good life despite the tragedies of the last few years and the horrors of his last illness.

But I hate that he's gone and I much as I knew I liked and valued him, I found when he was gone that he was more a part of me, my past, my thinking, my mental and emotional apparatus than I had ever realized. I don't believe he's still out there except in the impressions he left on earth, but if he is I hope he is giving them hell in heaven, and listening in on all of you. Plus I wish I'd called him back last year. I am not going to check the spelling on this, because that's not the Walden way. Goodbye, George. You had nerves of steel.
Kenny Lonergan
December 20, 2008
This is very hard for me because I have the same feelings as I did when my father died 18 years ago. I remember when George first burst upon the Walden scene. He was a breath of fresh air. George was my advisor, my friend and most of all a mentor to me. I remember I could not wait until my senior year so that I could take the course 'Crisis in American Life'. When the time came George had helped to make me a free thinker who challenged what was said to me instead of accepting the words. This has helped me through my life and has been a lesson I have passed on to my children. George and I had a strange connection that nobody ever knew about. He was big into the union movement and both of my parents were union members. We went on a trip to a Brooklyn union and it ends up being my father's union. Next we went to 1199 and that was my mother's union. Later after getting married and talking to my then wife about the wonderful teacher I had at Walden she tells me that she had him as a teacher at Queens College. I have only had two heroes in my life my father and George. Thank you for everything. Your spirit will live forever.

Greg Coleman Class '74
Greg Coleman
December 19, 2008
I was lucky enough to have George as a friend from 1971 (when we first met out at Midvale) until his death. I learned the hard way what a remarkable teacher he was, for I had the impossible task of taking over all his Walden classes for four months in 1978 while George recuperated from a serious heart attack. I saw just how crushed my students were that George wasn't there for them. Kind of how all of us feel now. But we are all better people because of this passionate, courageous, challenging, inspiring man for whom life without social justice was no life.
Bob Lamm
December 19, 2008
Perhaps one measure of a person is how many people's lives he makes better and how he influences the people he comes in contact with. As we can see from George's students this one man made a huge difference in a profession that we all too often take for granted. I know that my outlook on injustice, poverty, America and civil rights was greatly influnced by this thoughtful, great man. Yet one of the amazing things about him was that as he taught he also continued to learn. When I saw him some months ago at a Walden reunion he seemed frail but still with it. He gestured me over and asked me to sit down. He recalled to me a situation (that I had forgotten) that occured in a history class no less then 29 years before where I had said something apparently important (hard to believe) while we were watching a movie on the holocaust (as someone else also mentioned this simply wasn't done in classrooms), and apparantly turned that days class around (he told me that many kids were leaving the room and couldn't stand watching the movie... I had said something to the effect that the Jews in Germany didn't have the option to leave so why should we be allowed to leave) How he remembered what I had said 29 years later is beyond belief and to me shows how engaged he was as a teacher and as a human being. His classes weren't lectures as much as they were verbal battles and wrestling matches. However, anyone who paid attention learned from someone who was passionate and could care less what the establishment thought. I would have loved to have sit in on his "last lecture" about an African American becoming President. This is a life worth celebrating and if the family did decide to have a public memoriam I would be one of the first in line to attend.
Mark Schorr
December 18, 2008
George touched our hearts, souls and spirits. His passion was profoundly inspiring. He was a remarkable teacher. My older brother Jared and I always felt incredible moved by George's energy, knowlege, sparkling eyes and knowledge. He was completely original. One morning he was throwing books loudly in the center of the classroom floor, stating that these books were now banned and that we would be having a book burning ceremony. He loved his family, Walden, his colleagues and family. This is written with sincere condolences and love to George's family.
Rachel Bush
December 18, 2008
George taught my sister, my brother and myself at Walden. He touched us as no other. With George, I took a Holocaust class in 1978 when there were no Holocaust classes; I traveled to West Virginia to live with a coal-mining family after a strike; I lived on a farm in Vermont for a couple of weeks; and I did oral histories of retired hospital and health care workers from 1199. I became a teacher.
I visited George over the last couple of years on West End Ave. My last visit with George was this past Thanksgiving. I told him that I was living in Brazil, teaching lots of private English classes, but that I would be back up in January to visit, and that I'd visit him. After I told him this, he looked up at me and said, "How can you come in January? What about your students?" He was fluid, crisp and beautiful till the end.
I love you George.
Joel Barsky
December 18, 2008
George was an amazing teacher and great person. He inspired in me a love of learning, of history and the social sciences, and taught me the importance of debate. These lessons have stayed with me for the more than 30 years since I took George's class. I was lucky enough to see George earlier this year at our 30th reunion. I will miss him.
Eric Amel
December 18, 2008
I can perfectly hear George saying, "You know what I mean? Do you hear what I am saying?"

George was definitely one of the grownups who touched my life and helped form the person I am today -- a progressive activist. I loved that I got to read "Catch 22" and write a poem for a term paper in an American History class. You will be missed. Bah Lee (Walden '84)
Barbara Lee
December 18, 2008
I miss George's amazing kindness, sense of humor, and endless curiosity. He was so open and honest with his feelings - that I always knew just where I stood with him. I will always be grateful for the wonderful times my husband Rob and I had with him, visiting his sweet home with Ethyl in north Jersey, and when he and Ethyl came to our family parties in Wanaque. Later Rob and I were lucky to go to the movies George, go out for dinners in noodle shops or bistros, go on a trip to Midvale in North Jersey with his lovely friend Lillian, and eat lunches with him and his boisterous and gentle meal partners at the Esplanade. I remember his beautiful family looking out at us from an array of photos in his room. I can still feel the light of his soul warming us from the other place he is visiting now.
Esther Cassidy
December 18, 2008
George was a passionate and inspiring teacher and a kind man. I have many wonderful memories of George. He will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him.
Leslie McCune
December 18, 2008
George was a wonderful man and great teacher. I feel so lucky to have seen him earlier this year. He was so much himself, completely remembered me (Walden '82!), and was living life. He touched my life and the lives of so many other people. He was a profoundly sensitive and aware human being, who brought history to life, and used history as a bridge between people. He loved life and people, brought that love into the classroom and our lives.
Steven Cohen
December 17, 2008
I can never adequately express my gratitude to the man who gave me my first copy of A People's History of the United States, who taught me about the Wobblies, and told me "No one's gonna give you your freedom-you have to take it!"
Norman Traum
December 17, 2008
Wow, I am so sad. And I was going to visit him over my holiday break. It had been way too long. I was a student of George's at Walden in the 80s. He is on my list of top most inspiring people in my life. He helped shape who I am, how I see the world and my political outlook on the world, my intense commitment to justice, how I raise my kids, the list goes on and on. I even married a George who taught American History for many years. My brother just turned 18 and what did I give him, but A People's History, by Howard Zinn- our High School text book. I send love to George's family. I need time to process this loss and honor this great, amazing man.
Jessie Levey
December 17, 2008
George was truly amazing teacher. I recall him explaining the 1949 Peekskill riot from his experience as one of the union workers ringing the concert field to provide security. George brought history to life, inspiring and motivating us all along the way.
David Golden
December 17, 2008
George was an inspiring teacher. He not only reached me by encouraging me to look at history through the lens of my own passion (music), he also shared stories of hearing Paul Robeson sing, he took us on a field trip to the Fulton Fish Market, and taught us about life. Kids know when a teacher is authentic, and George really was. We were so honored to have him at our 30th reunion in 1976. Our deepest condolences to his family.

Amy Burton Musto (Walden '76)
John and Joshua Musto
Amy Burton
December 17, 2008
An amazing man and teacher; I had the pleasure and honor of knowing George when he taught at Walden. Hardly six months at a time would pass in the 25 years since my graduation without my thinking of him and all of the gifts he happily bestowed upon his students and friends.
Crissa Skarimbas-Hatcher
December 17, 2008
George was unlike any teacher I have ever had. I learned history in a way that I will always remember.

I will never forget his stories of World War II. I will never forget learning how to ask questions. And I will never forget his unwavering kindness and enthusiasm.
Karen (Cohen) Caine
December 17, 2008
Goerge was an amazing teacher I remember talking to him for hours about the labor movement and Eugene V. Debs, I still have the copy of the peoples history of the U.S. that we used in his class. He will be greatly missed.
Jill Freiberg
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