GEORGE LICHTER

Obituary
  • " St. Johann in Tiorl, Austra 22..."
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LICHTER--George. December 14, 1921-August 2, 2013. Aviator, businessman and philanthropist, died in Boulder, Colorado, August 2, two weeks after being diagnosed with leukemia (AML). Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, George grew up in a Jewish family with very strong extended family ties. In his childhood, airplanes were the new technology and George, from his earliest years, developed a fascination with flying. After Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for service and qualified for the U.S. Army Air Force pilot training course. He finished his training with distinction and became a fighter pilot of Mustangs and Thunderbolts, as well as of other aircraft. He was initially based in Washington, D.C. as part of the air defense of the capital and then in England, from where he flew 88 combat missions over occupied Europe including air support during the Normandy invasion. After World War II, George worked as a civilian flight instructor and private pilot. Outraged by the holocaust, he was deeply moved by the struggle to create an independent Jewish State. Although he was dubious about the survival of tiny Israel against the superiority of the Arabs, he threw in his lot with the nascent Israeli air arm by becoming one of its first and most important flight instructors. From 1948-1950, he lived in Israel and gave "wings" to the first Israeli pilots, who included the commander of the Israel Air Force during the Six Day War and the chief test pilot in the early decades of the state. Other air force friends went on to high positions in government and industry and included Ezer Weizmann, the late Israeli president. From the early '50s through 1990, George was active in the textile field, where he became a success with the development of Berkeley Mills, a wholesaler of drapery fabrics. He and his life-long friend and colleague, Eugene Towbin, of Boca Raton, Florida, built the business in a very focused manner and through strong customer relationships throughout the United States. After selling the business, George retired in 1995 to Boulder, where he enjoyed the company of eleven family members in three generations. He enjoyed listening to music, especially jazz, and could be moved to tears by a beautiful performance. His charities were diverse and included Jewish and Israeli causes, especially those organizations that advocated for peace and compromise. In the week before he died, George said, "I've had a good long run". His biography is entitled "Ups & Downs With No Regrets" and his story will be part of a film documentary, now in development, on Jewish-American air force volunteers in the 1948 War of Independence. His parents, Ben and Bessie Lichter and his youngest brother, Irwin, pre-deceased him. Survivors include his brother, Jules of Orlando, Florida, and his children John, Peggy and Michael, of Boulder. His former wife, Ishka Lichter, and his dear friend, Bonnie Kaye of New York City, also mourn him deeply. George Lichter died quickly, without suffering, at home, surrounded by loving family members. He had a long, wonderful life and a peaceful death.

Published in The New York Times on Aug. 11, 2013