George Henry Washburn was born July 2, 1933, at home on the family farm in Nampa, Idaho, and died in Columbia, Missouri, on April 7, 2023. He was the fifth child of William Bryan Washburn and Emma Beeson Washburn. He was preceded in death by his parents, his parents-in-law, his six siblings, and their spouses: Helen Jenkins (James), Betty Wolf (Gene), Virginia Rogers (Rog), Barbara McFadden (Mac), Shirley Taylor, and Robert Washburn (Karen). He attended a two room school 1st grade through 8th grade and graduated from Nampa High School in 1951, after which he joined the Navy during the Korean War. He was discharged in 1956 as Petty Officer 2nd Class after which he took a job with United Airlines before attending college on the G.I. Bill, first graduating from Boise Junior College, now Boise State University, in 1958 and then the University of Idaho. There he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1961 and a Master’s in Education in 1966. While attending a wedding of U of I classmates in Menlo Park, California, he met his future spouse, Helen Washburn. They were married in 1962 and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past December.
George was employed by the Boise Schools from 1961 until 1988 serving first as an 8th grade English teacher, then as a school counselor, and, finally, as Principal of Boise’s Career and Technical Education program. During George’s career in the Boise Schools, he was awarded a National Defense Education Act fellowship to attend Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, to study Guidance and Counseling. He also received a sabbatical leave to study landscape design at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. In addition, he attended Rutgers University for one summer, studying courses related to career education. While in Idaho, George was the first to receive the Vocational Educator of the Year Award. He took early retirement in 1988 to follow Helen to Nevada, Missouri, when she became president of Cottey College.
In Nevada, Missouri, George was employed for two years as Director of the Chamber of Commerce before joining the Planning and Zoning commission in 1990. He was elected to the City Council in 1992 and Mayor of Nevada in 1994. He was recognized as the Citizen of the Year by the Nevada Rotary Club in 1992 and embodied the Rotary Motto of “Service Above Self”.
George enjoyed his role as First Gentleman of Cottey College and especially his work with the Physical Plant staff as a volunteer gardener. He participated actively in campus activities and events of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, the owners of Cottey College. Students remember his support of President Helen, his spouse, his willingness to help with student clubs and activities, and his admiration and respect for the work of faculty and staff.
George and Helen moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. He became active in Osher@Mizzou where he took classes and taught memoir writing several times. He enjoyed his involvement in the Writers Square Memoir Group which he attended faithfully and in which he participated actively. His friendship with the members of this group was most meaningful to him through the years he was involved.
George had many hobbies and interests. He was an accomplished stained glass artist. His windows, lamps, and art pieces grace homes throughout the U.S. He was a master gardener, creating beauty at his home in Boise, the campus of Cottey College, and in his Hatton Drive neighborhood in Columbia. He was a talented writer whose wit and wisdom entertained and informed his many readers.
He was an ardent college sports fan who followed all men’s and women’s teams but especially the Oregon Ducks, the University of Washington Huskies, and the Boise State Broncos. From childhood until his final days, George followed the railroad industry with great interest. For several years he maintained a model railroad operation at this home. His knowledge of trees, plants, and birds made life more interesting for all who knew him.
George will be remembered as a devoted and loving husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, and uncle. He was a loyal and supportive friend. His enthusiasm for life was a joy to behold. He leaves an indelible mark on the lives of those who knew him, and he will be missed. He is survived by his wife, Helen Washburn, of Columbia, Missouri, and his son, Randal Washburn of McCall, Idaho. A memorial service is planned for a later date.
Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory, 12 East Ash Street, Columbia, MO 65203 (573) 449-4153. Condolences may be left online for the family at www.parkermillard.com.