George H. Moffett Jr.
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Ledyard - George H. Moffett Jr., 68, of Ledyard, died on Feb. 25, 2012, at home surrounded by his family after a courageous battle with melanoma.

He was born in Washington, D.C., to George H. Moffett and Margaret A. Truxal. As grandson of Admiral William A. Moffett, who became known as the "father of naval aviation" for having led the introduction of the aircraft carrier to the Navy, George had the sea in his blood. He was the third generation in his family to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, where he studied science and engineering from 1964 to 1966 at the height of the Vietnam War. He questioned the morality of the war and, much to his father's chagrin, transferred to St. Olaf College where he majored in studio art and developed an intense interest in philosophy. Searching for understanding and hungry to see the world, he went to Germany for graduate school to study theology at the University of Bonn. There he met his wife, Sabine, and they were married in 1971. After completing a Master of Divinity, he moved to England where he and Sabine had a daughter. He served for six years as headmaster of a small boarding school situated on the south coast. It was there that he fell in love with boats after buying a ketch and cruising the English Channel.

In 1981, George found a position that allowed him to combine his love of sailing and background in education on the schooner Brilliant at Mystic Seaport. During the 25 years that he served as her captain, he introduced over 3,000 teenagers and adults to sea as part of the museum's sail-education program. The job turned out to be a perfect match: as a teacher and mentor, he inspired self-discovery and courage by motivating his crew members to challenge themselves, persevere in hardship and never do things halfway. As an engineer, artist, and steward, he maintained the classic vessel to perfection. As a preservationist and communicator, he garnered appreciation for the yacht's mission and craftsmanship and raised an endowment to make its operations sustainable. As a wanderer and tactician, he took the boat to ever further waters and won races on the New England Coast and to Bermuda. Most notably, he raced Brilliant across the Atlantic from Halifax to Amsterdam in Tall Ships 2000 and won first in class and first overall.

George resigned from the Seaport in 2007 to pursue his terrestrial passion for motorcycling and explore the U.S. With friends, he rode a classic BMW motorcycle across country from British Colombia eastward. He was soon lured back to sea, however, by the opportunity to skipper the Fife ketch, Belle Aventure, until his retirement in 2009.

In the months before his death, George was honored to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Tall Ships America and the William P. Stephens Award from the Mystic Seaport in recognition of an enduring contribution to the history, progress, and appreciation of American yachting.

George was driven by a longing for understanding and knowledge that never left him. He was provoking, persistent, compassionate, witty, and eloquent. He appreciated simple beauty, made a life-long impression on many, and made life more fun for all around him.

In addition to his wife, he is survived his sister, Elizabeth; by his daughter, Jessica and her husband, Thomas.

Donations may be made in his name to the Brilliant program at Mystic Seaport, PO Box 6000, Mystic, CT 06355.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Day on Feb. 29, 2012.
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51 entries
February 23, 2020
I miss him, his laugh, his humor, his steadfastness. ❤
Griffith Mark
February 22, 2019
I learned a great deal sailing with George--not just about navigation and seamanship but about leadership and character. My favorite picture of him is still the one I took of him as he hung halfway up Brilliant's backstay scouting the approaches to Block Island.l He never looked happier than when the boat was in fast trim, sweeping along with the music of the rigging mingling with the brisk rush of bow wave and wind. I think of him often and feel fortunate to have known him.
Philip Gerard
September 29, 2012
George was a great friend of our father, Ed Murphy of Halifax, NS. They shared a passion for the sea and for racing classic wooden schooners - George as captain of the Brilliant and Dad of the Hebridee II. When George heard that Dad was dying he came to sit with us during his last days. Although he had already slipped into a coma Dad opened his eyes briefly after being told that George was in the room. He grinned up at George and urged him to, "Watch the back stay!" These were Dad's final words during his final race and we know he was content to have such an accomplished seaman on deck.
George left us far too soon but what a life he had! We are comforted by our memories of his kindness during our own time of loss.
The Murphy Family
August 21, 2012
After having missed too long reading up on my old friend, I was shocked and saddened today to read the news of his untimely passing in Feb.. My heart aches to think that such a great spirit is gone from this world.
But there is comfort knowing that George spent his life living his passion and spreading joy and good humor far and wide -- across the planet, across the seas. There's also great comfort knowing that his aloha will be carried far into the future in the hearts of his many friends, colleagues, and students.
My sincere condolences to his family for your great loss.
janice palma-glennie
July 27, 2012
We were deeply saddened to learn of George's passing. George was our Skipper on Brilliant for about a dozen passages including racing her (Spring Off Soundings & the Mystic Schooner Race), a delivery from Gloucester MA and many 4-day adult cruises. George was the reason we joined MSM and contributed to Brilliant for many years. I can't say it any better than the previous message, truly "wit, charm and depth." It was an honor to sail with and know George, this is indeed a very sad day...
Norma Jean & Craig Juel
July 22, 2012
So sad to learn of your passing George. Your friendship will always be cherished, your wit and charm legendary and your depth inspiring. I am proud to have been your friend.
Gary Stephens
Gary Stephens
May 4, 2012
George, you were the best, whether it was turning a bit or a phrase and I will miss you with all my heart. You brought joy to,Janet and me and you showed us things about the sea that we had never seen although we had lived on it for some time. Rest in peace, dear friend. The seaman is truly home from the sea.
Bob and Janet Foster
Robert Foster
April 26, 2012
What a wonderful celebration last Saturday of George's life. And what moving tributes by the speakers, who all did a marvelous job of capturing the essence of George. Thank you, Sabine and Elizabeth, for gathering us together.
David Mohan
March 26, 2012
We are saddened to hear the news. On one of our visits to Mystic and the ASA agm we were invited and welcomed into the Moffat home. We cherish our memories of Capt. George and send our condolances to his loved ones.
Ralph & Julie Tingley
March 26, 2012
Thanks you - George for all the years of friendship and adventure. You will be missed - but never forgotten.
Matt Montefusco
March 8, 2012
Our son Mark Roeske sailed with George on the Brilliant for 4 seasons. The highlight for him was sailing from Halifax (Nova Scotia) back to Gloucester (Mass.), across the Bay of Fundy, in 1999. Because of George's inspiration, Mark went on to get his 100-ton certificate from the Coast Guard. Mark asked George to write a letter of recommendation, which he did. Thank you, George, for inspiring Mark to go the extra step.
Don Roeske
March 7, 2012
George, I am at a loss for words, all I can say is that you were an incredible guy. I felt a lot of grief at your untimely passing. You gave so much to the sailing world with your talented, hard-working and humble spirit. My immense sympathies to your family, friends and loved ones. You will be missed by many.
Frank Fulchiero
March 6, 2012
I've just now become aware of Captain Moffett's passing, very sorry for your loss. I had the privilege of sailing with him aboard the Brilliant in my teens and they are among my favorite experiences as a young man. We weathered Hurricane Bob in Gloucester together and sailed around Block Island in a day, a feet he claimed was quite good. Again, I am truly sorry for your loss, he was a good man who will be missed.
Brad Springer
March 5, 2012
It was my privilege to sail with George from Halifax down to to Mystic on Brilliant, then to share his company from time to time over the years ashore. He led by inspiration and example, always patient and full of good humor. He was an unforgettable character and a credit to his profession, a man in full. The world is a smaller place without him.
Philip Gerard
March 4, 2012
Thank you to all of you for your touching messages. It has meant a lot to us to read such beautiful tributes to George/Dad.
Sabine and Jessica
Sabine Moffett and Jessica Moffett Rose
March 4, 2012
To sail with George was to be in the presence of a teacher's teacher, a sailor's sailor, and a whole lot more. In those and so many other dimensions, his courage was unwavering and genuine. His inspiring example lives on in all the many hearts and minds he touched. Fair winds and following seas, George.
Doug & Phyllis Teeson
March 4, 2012
A portrait of the Captain as a young man.
March 3, 2012
Goodbye to a dear friend.
Rae Gould
March 2, 2012
To fiddler's green then...
Captain Jeff Neuwirth Newport Beach, CA
March 2, 2012
I will always remember the Brilliant pulling in to anchor at Cape Cod to visit us,All those summers ago. Fun family dinners, laughs and great memories. Geordy loved the ocean and his family and I always looked forward ever summer to his visits. He will be missed and I know he is up at the helm in the sky with the big man looking down on all of us and all of the oceans he spent so much of his life on. My best wishes to all of his family.

Peter M. Mark, Jr
Houston, Texas
Peter Mark, Jr
March 1, 2012
I didn't know the man, but what an interesting life! He seems to have lived it to the full, and that is a wonderful thing. No doubt he leaves heartbroken family and friends, and I pray God's rest for him, and comfort for you all.
I am inspired just to read of how he lived.
Cathleen Reagan
March 1, 2012
Captain George will always be the epitome of the word Brilliant. That so aptly named and beautiful vessel he so graciously and ably captained will now and forever be in his "Afterglow". What a fanciful name for the Brilliant's tender. George was truly what most most only wish to be: A Legend in his own time, which for all of us who were fortunate to know him was far too short. I herewith express my heartfelt sorrow for our collective loss to his lovely and faithful wife Sabine
Mark Faulstick
March 1, 2012
Fair sailing, George. You showed me the essence of courage; you graced my life with wit, with laughter, with art. Those were your gifts to me, from our “haystack years” to the last whisper. I will make a sacrifice to Asclepius for you. Sail fair.
Griffith Mark
March 1, 2012
George and "Brilliant" were for many years VERY welcome guests at our marina, the Block Island Boat Basin. What a fine person he was, always a gentleman, and as brilliant as the famed boat he skippered. We were sorry when he decided to resign from Seaport, and kept hoping he would come back to Block Island some day. My husband, Rally Migliaccio, always admired George tremendously.
Fran Migliaccio
March 1, 2012
I read the obits for the stories they tell, and wish to commend the writer of Mr. Moffett's life story for its elegance and honesty, particularly in describing his difficult moral dilemma, and its graceful outcome.
What a tremendous loss.

Robert Palm
Noank, CT
Robert Palm
March 1, 2012
GHM was the sort of man who does not seem to exist any more. Brilliant, but modest. Uncompromising, but forgiving. He was never content to ask small questions, let alone accept pat answers. Instead, he spent his life couragiously wrestling with the ultimate questions that he never stopped asking. He had a natural grace and gravitas, a winning smile, and a quick wit. A theologian who loved to ride motorcycles. A man who read the wind the way others read Sonnets.
He was a man, take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again.
Fare thee well, cousin, this world has suffered a great loss.
Kent Maynard, Jr.
March 1, 2012
When I was 15 and sailed on Brilliant Captain George my hero! Growing up in Mystic I had loved Brilliant from afar and watched her sail for years and he was everything I expected in her captain. He loved what he was doing, was so knowledgeable, a wonderful teacher, funny and managed to keep a mix-matched crew of kids in line that must of been as hard as herding cats! Over they years when I saw him at different Seaport functions he always remembered me, which made me smile.
My week on Brilliant is one of my most important memories from those years and was a turning point for me, and he will always be at the center of those memories, at the helm of 'my' beloved Brilliant.
My love and thanks to his family for sharing his life with us. Please know how very important he was in so many of our lives and what a wonderful influence.
Whenever I see Brilliant out on Long Island Sound, for me, he will always be the one at the wheel.
Stewart Hamilton-Frank
March 1, 2012
My daughter still loves to polish brass thanks to her week aboard Brilliant with Cpt. George. He was a wonderful leader and teacher. Stewart had a week on board that she has never forgotten and never will. Thank you Cpt. George. You are sorely missed
Our thoughts are with his family.
Jeanne Hamilton
February 29, 2012
My thought to his family and friends. He was a great man and I admired his dedication to teaching young teens aboard BRILLIANT. A wonderful and inspiring tribute to him. Anne Converse
Anne Converse
February 29, 2012
His curiosity and humility with the disease was incredibly moving. It was a gift to wrestle through things with George ~ I will miss you my friend.
Victoria Burdick
February 29, 2012
George was a true original. I always thought his life was that of great adventure novels. He is already missed.
Candace Hindle
February 29, 2012
Dear Sabine and Jessica,
I smiled this morning as I used (once again) something George taught me when our families were together for New Years Eve back when Nikki and Jess were in High School. This morning I didn't have my reading glasses with me and I found myself making a loose fist and looking at the words I wanted to read through the tiny tunnel that was formed by my fingers. George did that to read something on one of those evenings and when I asked why he was doing that, he explained WHY it worked to help him read the small print. He was knowledgeable on SO many subjects. I don't remember why it worked…. I just started doing that whenever I didn't have my glasses. I always think of George and what a fun time we had on those occasions when I do it. (The “reading of the lead globs” on New Year's Eve was fun as well although I don't think George “got into it” as much as the girls and I did.)

I will never eat Palak Paneer without thinking of George and his special pot of rice and his special order of Palak Paneer…with no Paneer. Our “Indian Food and a Movie" nights provided stimulating and enjoyable dinner conversation and movie reviews. I wish we could have had many more. The last two movies revolved around death and cancer and it was refreshing to be able to talk about my fight with the beast with someone who understood and was coming to terms with his own condition. He never seemed to fear death…he just wanted to live as long as he could! He fought so hard.

Life will be very different without him for many people but especially for you. My heart goes out to you both and to Elizabeth and Thom, too. I am keeping you all in my heart and my thoughts and sending you much love, prayers and positive energy. I love you my friends and grieve with you.
Sue McConnell
February 29, 2012
George fought valiantly against the beast of cancer, and I am sure he is resting peacefully now. Sabine, Jess, Thom and Elizabeth, you are in my thoughts and heart at this time. This was a lovely tribute to George. He had such a mind for learning - I was always struck by how curious he was to learn more. He would always ask questions about what I was doing, and seemed genuinely interested in finding out the answers.

It was so nice to read The Day's Op-Ed tribute to George as well (for those who did not see it here is the link - George was such an accomplished man and will be missed!
Nikki McConnell Ramirez
February 29, 2012
Sabine, Elizabeth, Thom & Jess, our deepest sympathies for the loss of George. I know he lives on in your hearts. Love from MJ & Alan
MJ Brush
February 29, 2012
Oh George, you're gone far too soon. My deepest sympathies to Sabine and Jessica. God grant you peace.
Vicki Claypole Anderson
February 29, 2012
I did not get to spend much time with George, but he was a man who didn't take long to get to know. He was very generous to me on my first visit to the Seaport, and I enjoyed my time with him aboard Brilliant. My thoughts are with his loved ones. Fair winds and blue skies, friend.
Robert Holt
February 29, 2012
Sabine and Jess, my sincerest condolences. George was a wonderful teacher, a gentleman, an extraordinary individual, and a model for all sailors lucky enough to have set sail with him. His spirit is free and his memory lives on in our hearts. My thoughts and prayers, Jamie Helmstetter
Jamie Helmstetter
February 29, 2012
i just heard about this and my prayers go out to your family. I will never forget my trip on the Brilliant at 16 with the Captain. I also worked for the seaport in the conrad program and loved seeing the different motorcycles the Captain had.
John Boorjian
February 29, 2012
A candle gives nothing of itself but light. A light has dimmed in our hearts for your loss. To live in the hearts of those we leave behind.....
is not to die. George's fingerprints won't fade by the lives he touched.

Rest in peace George.

In Sympathy,
Lee Stafford
February 29, 2012
A patient and confident man. I enjoyed the time that I spent with George on the Brilliant. A wondeful soul and true pleasure to be around. You'll remain in my heart as I continue on my sailing adventures. Go with the wind my friend!
Steven Lamothe
February 29, 2012
I was honored to escort George on his last ski run.
John Rose
February 29, 2012
You are in the wind right now and I will feel your presence weather on the waters or over the road.
Dave Mathieson
February 29, 2012
For someone who sailed with George for only 7 days in the Caribbean, he made a lasting impression on me. The tall ship community, and the world community, is diminished.
Thomas Sharp
February 29, 2012
This is a beautifully written obituary for a man who always strove for perfection. I feel very fortunate and thankful for having worked for George on Brilliant. Sabine and Jessica, my thoughts and sincere condolences are with you both. Amy Hagberg
Amy Hagberg
February 29, 2012
I cannot think of any individual whose company I enjoyed more both on and off the water. It was an honor to know him. Both George and that beautiful schooner share the same modifier - "Brilliant". For each laugh we will not share, for each profound insight I will not hear, Captain George Moffett will be missed.
Van Brown
February 29, 2012
This is Jessica Moffett-Rose, George's daughter. We would like to let everyone know that we are planning a celebration of George's life in mid-April. Details will follow.
Jessica Moffett-Rose
February 29, 2012
Fair Winds and Following Seas, we'll miss you.
Andrew and Judi Farley
February 29, 2012
By the sea, with the sea, we discover our dreams and find our purpose.
Godspeed George
Bruce Edwards
February 29, 2012
Horst and I will never forget all the fun we had racing Chips against Brilliant in many Classic Yacht events with George at the helm... but what always most touched our hearts was his incredible generosity of spirit, his graciousness and charm, and his irrepressible wit and sense of humor! To his family, we extend our deepest sympathy and will forever share your loss.
Genevieve Cerf
February 29, 2012
Sorry to hear of George's untimely passing. He was quite a captain and a very eccentric individual. He truly was a Mystic icon. Fair winds and following seas in his future resting place. Respectfully.... Capt. Mark Jalbert
February 29, 2012
Thinking of you and your family. I am so sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Karen Coburn
Karen Coburn
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