George Edward Swindells was born on Nov. 2, 1932, in Portland, Oregon and passed away on Sept. 26, 2018, in Seattle, Washington. As the younger son of William Swindells, Sr. and Irene Gerlinger Swindells, his early years were spent in Dallas, Oregon where Willamette Valley Lumber Company (founded by his maternal grandfather George T. Gerlinger in 1904) was headquartered.
In 1943 the family moved to Portland where George attended Sylvan Elementary School and Lincoln High School, from which he graduated in 1950. Throughout his life, George kept many close friends from LHS. After starting his college career at Claremont Men’s College, George transferred to the University of Portland, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1955. While at UP, George joined the Air Force ROTC and was commandant of the troop his senior year. In August of 1955, he received orders to report to New York for his assignment with the U.S. Air Force in France. For two years he was stationed in Chateauroux, a U.S. military supply depot south of Paris. George rose to the rank of Captain in the Air Force Reserve. For the rest of his life, he remembered fondly his time in France and maintained close friendships with U.S. military and local French people he met while stationed in France.
In the summer of 1956, George traveled from Chateauroux to Paris to visit Susan Hawes, a Portland acquaintance traveling on a chaperoned trip to Europe with college friends. George escorted Susie and her friends out for a full day and evening of sightseeing all over Paris, ending at Les Halles at 5 a.m. for a bowl of French Onion soup. George and Susie corresponded for a year until he returned home in September 1957. They were married in Portland on Aug. 2, 1958, and enjoyed 60 memorable years together.
During the first year of their marriage, George and Susie lived in Dallas, Oregon, while he worked in the sales division of Willamette Valley Lumber Company. In 1959 George transferred to Willamette’s Albany headquarters and the family (including son Theodore Harley Swindells, born that same year) moved to North Albany. George’s sales responsibilities now included Duraflake, a brand-new particleboard that was challenging markets previously dominated by lumber and plywood. Daughter Elizabeth Irene Swindells followed in 1962 and the family enjoyed a decade in Albany. George became very involved with the Albany Boys Club (now the Albany Boys and Girls Club) and helped build a large facility that offered after-school programs for hundreds of students daily. He remained actively supportive of the club until the end of his life.
In the mid-1960s, George and Susie built a beach house at Salishan on the Oregon coast and their family shared many happy years there, crabbing on Siletz Bay and exploring the Salishan Spit. It was during this time that George’s passion for boating began in earnest. In 1970 the family moved from Albany to Salem, where they lived for the next 24 years. George was very active in a variety of forest-products associations and traveled extensively around the country as vice president of sales for Willamette Industries. He was a past director of Cascade Pacific Lumber Company, the World Forestry Center, the National Particleboard Association (where he served as president), University of Portland (Board of Regents), the Albany Boys and Girls Club, and Camp Nor’Wester. George also served on the advisory council of Claremont McKenna College and was the first-lifetime member of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association. Health concerns led to his departure from Willamette in 1978; George relished trying his hand at enterprises outside the lumber business.
George had many passions and hobbies, among them, gardening, boating, golf, western novels and cowboy movies. He loved to spend time in the garden, always in pursuit of any and all garden pests from ants to geese. As their love of boating grew, George and Susie relocated to Washington state in 1994. Summers were spent gunkholing in the San Juans and British Columbia, with occasional forays north to Alaska. George struck up friendships with moorage owners, marine mechanics and boaters up and down the coast. He learned golf during childhood rounds (as a “Class B caddie” for his dad) at Neskowin, Oregon and played the game into his 80s, always enjoying membership at the local club. Many happy rounds were played at Wailea on Maui, where George and Susie escaped Pacific Northwest winters for over 40 years.
In 2002 George and Susie found a property on San Juan Island that would become his favorite place on earth. His greatest love was for his family and he relished summer visits when all five grandchildren were on property enjoying the ponds, boats and fields.
For the final two years of his life, George battled significant medical challenges and his family is indebted to his extraordinary team of caregivers, led by Evox and Jackson. He received fantastic care from many others at Skyline Terraces in Seattle. The family also wishes to acknowledge the ongoing and loyal support of James.
George was preceded in death by his parents, his sister-in-law Ann J. Swindells and his beloved niece Jean Baton Swindells. He is survived by his wife Susie, brother William Swindells (Anne), son Ted Swindells (Phyllis), daughter Libby Swindells Hulsey (Zachary) and five grandchildren he adored: Phillip E. Swindells, William E. Swindells, George T. Hulsey, Elizabeth H. Swindells and Peyton I. Hulsey, as well as five nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Keawala’i Congregational Church, 5300 Makena Road, Makena, Maui. The family suggests that donations in honor of George be directed to the San Juan Island community ball fields, a true passion of his. Gifts may be made to the San Juan Island Community Foundation and earmarked for the brand-new “Fund for Youth Athletics,” P.O. Box 1352, Friday Harbor, WA. 98250, or online at http://sjicf.org/giving-center.