GEORGE MATSON WHITNEY ’52
George Whitney was born in Conneaut, Ohio, a small city on the south shore of Lake Erie. Following completion of his study at Amherst, George returned to his home community and spent the balance of his life living and working there until his death on May 14, 2008.
It was not an accident that George and I traveled on the same train in September 1948 to enter Amherst. Both George’s father, Wilbur, and my father, William Cobau, graduated from Amherst together in the Class of ’24. Before 1948, our family would occasionally visit the Whitney family and enjoy the beaches of Lake Erie. As freshmen, George and I shared Sterns Rm. 221 with John Holdsworth. George became a member of Phi Gamma Chi. He was most interested in the activities backstage at Kirby, became a masquer and majored in dramatic arts.
Following graduation from Amherst, events lead George and me apart. George entered the U.S. medical corps, and during the Korean Conflict, he was stationed at an evacuation hospital near Seoul. Upon discharge in 1954, George returned to Conneaut and operated his father’s clothing store for 30 years. I do recall that for one school year in the mid-1950s, George returned to Amherst to replace Professor Ralph McGoun who was on sabbatical leave from his role as the director of the scenery shop at Kirby Theater.
In 1984, George completed a course of study in healthcare financial management at Ohio State Univ. This lead to a relationship with Brown Memorial Hospital, the community hospital in Conneaut, where George eventually became president, chief executive officer and member of the board of trustees. He presided over the establishment of an outpatient special procedure unit for ambulatory and laparoscopic surgical procedures and numerous diagnostic and therapeutic programs including mammography, CT scanning, family birthing center, occupational health program, computerized medical records and billing and a home health program to mention only a few.
Meanwhile, George became a director of the Conneaut Savings Bank and member and president of the Conneaut Rotary Club. He belonged to the Conneaut Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Conneaut Community Center for the Arts, First Congregational Church and numerous other civic organizations. He and his wife, Joan, had three children and 10 grandchildren. From this too brief summary of the life of George, it becomes apparent that this son of Amherst left his alma mater to lead a productive life fulfilling the promise we all made to Amherst to use our energies and talents unselfishly to make our world a better place.
—Charles Cobau ’52