A simple tribute to my two Uncles George
George is a very special name in our family. It has been reserved for two very special people who are faithful, loving, intelligent, resourceful and jovial. With both being past the age of 90, they have a wealth of life stories to share and a personal knowledge of nine decades of change. They remember how life was before there was an automobile, an airplane or a radio. Both helped to bring into existence the wonders of communications that we now have. Uncle George Lawson was employed for over 50 years in the telphone industry, in finance and management. Uncle George Freeman was employed for over 50 years in the radio and television industry, from ship radio operator to chief engineer of television stations. I thank God for my Uncles George!
The links above will take you to the family narratives for my Uncles George's parents and brother and sister, my parents. The links to Uncle George Lawson and Uncle George Freeman are to photos and brief personal comments on this page.
Uncle George Lawson
born May 12, 1903, Tucumcari, NM
died February 26, 1997, Henderson, NV
AE 93 yrs. 9 mos. 14 dys.
Uncle George was born in the desert of Quay County, New Mexico. Some years ago he began an autobiography, which he titled MY LIFE - A MOMENT IN TIME. Uncle George provides keen insights into the family of Jim and Lucy Lawson, that would otherwise have been lost in time. The incomplete typescript of about 100 pages covers only 15 years of his life, five in Tucumcari and ten years in Seattle, and the family's move to Muskogee, OK - a return to his roots, since his four grandparents and his great grandma Sarah M. Sims Lawson had moved there in the 1880s and 1890s.
The early recollections of Uncle George, at about age 5 in Tucumcari, were prophetic of his life's work. "The unpaved streets and board walks. A wooden water tank appears, balanced upon a platform, which is supported by numerous wooden legs. A line of poles bearing several crossarms, supporting many strands of bare copper and iron wire, are extended on one side of the street. Frequently, I would press my ear against a telegraph pole, and listen to the pulsating energy in the wire, emitting a pleasant humming sound. I envisioned persons receiving messages of love, happiness and sorrow from the telegraph office or a telephone call."
When the Lawson family returned to Seattle in the mid-1920s, Uncle George began his career in the finance department of the telephone company, continued working for the phone company in Seattle and in Sacramento, CA until his retirement, and is a member of Telephone Pioneers of America. After retirement, Uncle George lived for a time in northern New York state before moving to Henderson, NV. As he says, he was born in the desert and had an internal drive to return to the desert.
For three days at the end of September and beginning of October, 1995, three of Uncle George's nephews [photo - 44K], the brothers Don, Steve and Charles, visited him at his home in the desert of Nevada. What a delightful time was had by all, reminiscing, exchanging family news, and visiting his favorite dining and entertainment places, together with his daughter Cousin Georgeann. It was wonderful to see the affection various acquaintances had for Uncle George. And what a treasure of mementos and previously unseen photos Uncle George shared with us, including photos of his Freeman grandparents and a tintype of his great grandpa James Howell Freeman (images are on this site).
Uncle George would have celebrated his 94th birthday anniversary on May 12th, 1997 - and on July 2nd his longevity would have surpassed that of his maternal grandmother Malinda Margrett Sears Freeman.
Uncle George Freeman
born January 23, 1906, Fort Worth, TX
died August 16, 2005, Seattle, WA
AE 99 yrs. 6 mos. 24 dys.
Pursuing an interest in radio that had begun in the early 1920s, Uncle George Freeman was a radio operator from 1926 to 1929 at a cannery in Portock, AK, and aboard ships making calls along the Pacific coast from San Diego, CA to Ketchican, AK. When he boarded the freighter Point Lobos in March of 1929, Uncle George maintained a daily diary over the next four months, until he left the ship on July 8th, being "Thru with going to Sea for life & no foolin'." The diary entry of April 2nd at San Francisco indicates an interest that would eventually lead him into television engineering: "Also was taken up to the Telephoto Division of the Bell Tel. Co. & was introduced to the chief Engineer. This is the main branch for the Telephoto system over the entire U.S. He showed & explained most of the apparatus & I could follow him almost to the dot as I had studied a little on this science."
Uncle George became a charter member of the Radio Pioneers of America, with a career that found him instrumental in establishing various radio and television stations in Washington, Alaska and California. While working for KRSC radio in 1944, he recorded a disc of his mother's "Old, Old Story" recitation. Fifty three years later, a sound bite from that recording is on this web site. By Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1948, Chief Engineer George Freeman and his crew had completed preparations for the inaugural broadcast of KRSC-TV, the first Seattle TV station - now KING-TV. In 1953 he was Chief Engineer at KMBY-TV and KSBW-TV in Monterey and Salinas, CA. Before his retirement, Uncle George also was Chief Engineer at KOMO-TV.
A Texan by birth, Uncle George moved to Tacoma, WA at age 3, and then to Seattle at age 21. He had many interests besides his broadcasting career. He delighted in having his nephews and nieces sailing with him in the Serene, which he had built, and flying with him in both land and sea planes. Uncle George introduced us to many of the new electronic gadgets - remember the wire recorders that preceeded tape recorders? If the wire came off the spool you really had a mess!
It was a snowy and icy Super Bowl Sunday, January 28, 1996, when a ninetieth birthday anniversary celebration was held for Uncle George in Tacoma, WA. The weather conditions could not keep away his admiring friends and relatives, from all around the Puget Sound area of Washington, and from California and Alaska. Among Uncle George's guests were all eight of his nephews and nieces [photo - 45K].
Uncle George celebrates his 91st birthday on January 23, 1997,
honored and loved by his extended family. And I must remember
to get him to autograph his photo in my First Edition copy of
Puget Sounds: A Nostalgic Review of Radio and TV in the Great
Northwest. On Jan. 18, 1997 Uncle George autographed his
photo, with his sister-in-law Aunt Ruby as witness. [photo
Uncle George celebrated his 98th birthday on January 23, 2004. He
and his sister, Aunt Eva Brown, were guests of honor at a family
luncheon at the Yankee Grill in Ballard on January 17th, Aunt Eva's
91st birthday! [photo - 95K]
The Seattle Times - Aug. 19, 2005
GEORGE ARETUS FREEMAN
Born January 23, 1906, in Ft. Worth, Texas, and died August 16, 2005, in Seattle. A charter member of the Radio Pioneers of America, he served as station engineer for the first FM station in Salinas, California. He also designed and engineered KRSC--Seattle's first TV station. For many years George served as a ships radio operator on commercial voyages to Alaska. At age 99-plus he still remembered Morse telegraphic code.
George's family recall fondly many Sunday afternoon Puget Sound outings on his 36-foot Ed Monk sloop, the Serene, which he built single-handedly in his own backyard.
George was preceded in death by his wife, Olga, his brother Morey Freeman, and his sisters Elsie Patterson and Iva Lawson. He is survived by his sister Eva Brown of Shoreline and six nieces and nephews who will greatly miss him. We love you, Uncle George. Graveside service will be at Evergreen-Washelli August 20 at 10:30 a.m.
Skipper George Freeman at the helm of the Serene of Seattle
(larger image - 800x1000 pixels)