Meet Our Donors - George L
Honoring Family and Diversity
George is a man with a sonorous voice and an accent that can’t be placed. A sense of order and discipline emanates from it – as if you can hear that his shirt is freshly pressed and his shoes are polished to a high shine. Perhaps his formal manner recalls his teenage years in military service or is a product of his long career as a corporate executive.
Behind that formality lies tremendous warmth and dedication to family. Selecting a school 37 years ago was a family commitment. When George and his wife, Vera, chose Greene Street, they were looking for a diverse neighborhood school with a strong academic program. “We lived around the corner from Greene Street. We visited and took a look at the curriculum. Greene Street had parents from Africa and India. My wife and I called it the mini-United Nations of children.”
“Principal Stan Kenyon impressed us. His commitment. His office was always open. He did everything – he was the chief cook and bottle washer. He taught Bruce how to play chess. He still plays on occasion.” Bruce entered GSFS in Kindergarten when the number of students totaled 129. He was joined three years later by his younger sister, Marcie. “We found the experience similar for both our children. Both enjoyed school and felt comfortable and secure. They enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere,” said George.
As it does today, Greene Street welcomed parental involvement. “We were at the school quite a bit. We got to know all the parents. The teachers welcomed parents dropping in. My wife was very involved. We were both very involved. We came to potluck dinners and helped with open houses. You felt comfortable going over any time. This is something we really liked about Greene Street.”
Bruce graduated from Greene Street in 1972 and went on to Penn Charter for seventh grade. After Marcie completed third grade with Alice Goddard, the family moved to California, where George took a position at Levi Strauss. They spent five years in the San Francisco area and then moved to Golden Valley, Minnesota, where George worked as an executive for General Mills. Now Bruce is a computer programmer in Washington, DC, and sister Marcie is in Durham, NC, working for State Farm. Recently retired, George finds respite from the long Minnesota winters by visiting his family and vacationing in the tropics.
George visited the school for the first time in many years in April 2001 as part of a trip to Philadelphia to see the Penn Relays. “What excites me is that the school is continuing the same values. The diversity of the school is the same as it was 35 years ago. When I made a visit to the school I could see that the commitment was still there. You can sense the warmth and camaraderie and comfort level of the students – only there were more of them.”
Ed Marshall, the current head of school, went to visit George in February 2003. “Ed pointed out that we had been giving before we were asked to give. For our first gift, we presented it to Stan in person and gave him some General Mills stock. We felt good about the school and the education our kids got. We believe in giving to a number of social programs. It is not something we sat down and talked about much. We always knew teachers were underpaid. We saw a need and felt we should include Greene Street in our annual giving. It is part of who we are.”
Sadly, Vera, George’s wife of 38 years, passed away in 1997. George’s planned gift honors Vera and their shared dedication to Greene Street. “Our planned gift is a continuation of our giving. If you are comfortable with Annual Giving, it is very normal to make a final gift.
“We planned to leave money to various charities. Coincidentally, I finished the list the day Ed was here and gave it to my trust attorney. It was always part of our plan to include Greene Street Friends in our will. It wasn’t something we had to think about.
“I can only wish the school continued success and that funding levels increase to achieve the things on the drawing board. I’d like to see the plans the school has become a reality. I think the school is on the right track.”