Remembering Melvin D. George (1936-2016)
Posted May 11, 2016
To put faith into action in the secular world and to explore the natural habitat of 17 species of penguins – Mel George persistently pursued these activities much to the admiration of his colleagues and friends. Mel was a mentor to many students throughout his academic career and found joy in the music of Mozart.
Mel was active on the Vesper Society board of directors since 1999 and served as a corporate member since 2004. His keen intellect and ability to speak on a broad range of topics from a place of thoughtful observation was valued by all.
Born on February 13, 1936, in Washington, D.C., Mel became active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as an undergraduate at Northwestern University. There, he and his wife Meta, were first introduced to the Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler, the man who would become his mentor and friend and whose life in ministry the couple worked tirelessly to archive for future generations.
It was Sittler’s teachings that Mel turned to for inspiration during his long career as a university administrator, as president of St. Olaf College, a private Lutheran college in Minnesota, and twice as interim president of the University of Missouri.
Mel took to heart Sittler’s teaching on the role of Christians in protecting the environment, something the theologian believed was a mandate from God. Mel’s fondness for penguins, a modern-day ‘canary in the mines’ for climate change, led to Mel and Meta’s travels around the world studying the mostly endangered species.
Mel died on April 25, 2016, at his Columbia, Missouri home. His long-time friend Bill Bondeson said it was appropriate that Mel died on World Penguin Day. Mel was laid to rest at Holden Lutheran Church in Kenyon, Minnesota.