Ellis Eugene "Gene" George, 88, a lifelong resident of the Springdale area, died December 1, 2010 at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville surrounded by his family. He was born July 15, 1922 at home in the Brush Creek community of Elm Springs, Arkansas to Charles Lee and Willie Jeanette Lowe George. His family moved to Springdale in 1934. As a Christian, he was a member of First United Methodist Church, and worshipped at Cross Church in Springdale and Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas with his family.
Gene attended Brush Creek and Springdale schools, graduating from Springdale High School in 1940 as President of his senior class. He attended the University of Arkansas majoring in Business Administration. Gene served in the United States Navy from May 12, 1944 to May 16, 1946. During World War II he was aboard the USS Okanogan APA 220. Honorably discharged as a Storekeeper, Second Class, he was awarded an American Theatre medal, an Asiatic -- Pacific medal Bronze Star, a Victory medal and a Philippine Liberation medal.
During his childhood years, Gene performed various duties at the Farmers Produce Company, a business started by his father. Returning from the Navy he joined his father, C. L., his brother, Luther, and his sister-in-law, Cathryn, in the company, which later became known as George's Feed and Supply Company and presently George's, Inc. After the untimely death of his brother in 1969, followed shortly thereafter by the death of his father, Gene took over full responsibility for the George's company, serving as President and Chief Executive Officer from 1969 to 1980 and Chairman of the Board from 1980 until his passing.
He served his community on the First National Bank of Springdale Board of Directors from 1969 to 2004, the Legacy National Bank Board of Directors from 2004 until his passing, the Springdale Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, currently Northwest Medical Center, from 1970 to 1998 and the Community Care Foundation Board of Directors from 1998 to 2003.
He also served on the J. B. Hunt Transport Incorporated Board of Directors from its inception in 1961 to 2004, the Hudson Foods Board of Directors and the Arkansas Poultry Federation Board of Directors. He was President of the Arkansas Turkey Federation in 1963 and Chairman of the Arkansas Poultry Festival in 1982.
Gene was named "Man of the Year" in 1982 by the Arkansas Poultry Federation and recognized as a "Pioneer of the Poultry Industry" in 1994 by the University of Arkansas Poultry Science Center. He was given the "Pioneer Citizen Award" by the Springdale Jaycees in 1982, the "Outstanding Civic Service Award" by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce in 1994 and was the first recipient of the "Spirit of Harvey Jones Award" in 2007. He was inducted into the Arkansas Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1993 and into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2002. The news magazine Arkansas Business named him one of the "Top 25 Living Legends in Arkansas" in 2009.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents; his wife of 56 years to whom he was married April 13, 1947, Mary Frances Rice George; one grandson, David Ray Evans, junior; one brother, Luther Lee George and his wife, Cathryn Collier George; and one sister, Lillian Jeanette George Redwine and her husband, Joe.
He is survived and loved by his family, Virginia Clark Rogers George, of Springdale to whom he was married November 20, 2005; one daughter, Cathy Lu George Evans and husband David, of Fayetteville; one son, Gary Charles George and wife Robin, of Springdale; four granddaughters, Erin Angela Evans Bridges, Mary Kathryn George Brown and husband Matthew, Julie Ann George Swope and husband Patrick, and Linden Michelle Evans Siems and husband Brandon; two grandsons, Charles Ellis George and wife Samantha, and Carl Eugene George and wife Anna; four great granddaughters, Elissa Lauren Bridges, Bailey Ann Brown, Bryn Michelle Siems and Campbell Elizabeth Brown; six great grandsons, Evan Matthew Bridges, Hayden Walker Swope, Carter Holt Swope, Benton David Siems, Asher Charles George and Garrick Elisha George.
A funeral service was held at ten o'clock Monday, December 6, 2010 at Cross Church in Springdale with The Reverends Ronnie Floyd, C. L. "Red" Dixon and Mickey Rapier officiating. Entombment will be at Bluff Cemetery. The family received friends from one o'clock to four o'clock in the afternoon Sunday, December 5, 2010 at Sisco Chapel in Springdale.
Pallbearers will be Charles Ellis George, Carl Eugene George, Matthew John Brown, Patrick Holt Swope, Barry Anthony Bridges, Brandon Givens Siems, John Lee George and Richard Eugene George.
Honorary Pallbearers were Joseph Sanford Boone, Marion Edison Brown, Haroldean Hewitt, Billy Reid Holiman, Otto Oliver Jech, Walter Lee Turnbow, Johnelle DeBusk Hunt and The Lunch Bunch.
Loving Assistants are Nora Dodson Hall, Debbie Loraine Young, Linda Dianne Knox, Sharon Kaye McCutcheon, Jackie Lou Holiman and Elsie Marie McKnight.
Memorials may be made to Circle of Life Hospice, 901 Jones Road, Springdale, Arkansas 72762 or Arkansas Children's Hospital, 1 Children's Way, Little Rock, Arkansas 72202.