Amherst Magazine

George M. Shay '38

Deceased December 12, 2007
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George M. Shay

In work and play, George was our globetrotter nonpareil.

As his brother, Keith ’43, put it, “above all, he loved to travel, and he spent a good part of his life exploring the world.”

Much of this came from assignments for the Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee for which he worked thirty years, becoming vice president for international sales. He later was a partner in a Milwaukee real estate firm, retiring in 1989 to his home in Scottsdale, AZ. He died there in his sleep on December12, 2007, probably from heart failure, his brother said.  He was ninety.

A love of languages was enhanced, of course, by his life abroad.

He majored in French at Amherst and became fluent with a summer at Grenoble.  He worked three years in Spain and had a good hold on that language. He also had a working knowledge of Turkish and smatterings of Japanese, Malay, and Greek.

His travels also deepened other interests. At one time, he practically commuted between Turkey and Greece. As he recalled in our 50th Reunion book, “this led to an interest in archaeology and the beginnings of civilization as I was able to visit sites such as Naphlion, Corinth, Ephesus, Miletus, Baalbeck, and Crete.

“Little did I know when I was taking Professor Morgan’s art courses that they would come so forcefully to life for me.”

His brother said George also “played the piano for many years, listened to classical music and opera, and, in his later years, was a fan of the Lawrence Welk Show.

“He was a man of great character and humor, loved to hear others laugh, loved his family and was beloved, admired, and an inspiration to all.”

Born in Chicago, George prepared for Amherst at Highland Park (IL) High school. In college, he was a Chi Psi, manager of the basketball team, treasurer of the Sphinx Club, and on the business board of the Student. During the war, he served as an intelligence officer in the US Navy. His first jobs were with Sears Roebuck and Studebaker. 

Besides his brother, he leaves his wife, Bette (Sanderson), and a daughter from a previous marriage, Linda S. Cardenas. His first wife, Kathryn (Westerhold) died in the 1970s. A son from that marriage, Keith, died in 2005.  He also leaves a stepdaughter, Nancy LeGrand, a stepson, Robert Sanderson, two grandchildren, ten step-grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

George Bria ’38

 

 

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