WEST BERKSHIRE — George Donald Ewins, Sr. died peacefully on July 21, 2015, after a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82.
Born on the family farm on May 6, 1933, George was the oldest son of C. Donald Ewins and Virginia (Thomas) Ewins. A sixth-generation Vermonter, George maintained a lifelong pride in his state and its Yankee traditions.
George attended the one-room school house in West Berkshire. He graduated from Enosburg High School in 1951 and was a member of the University of Vermont’s class of 1955. To pay for his education, he sold knife sharpeners and other products door to door. After graduation he moved to New York City, where he worked while earning an MBA in finance from New York University.
He was accepted into the Chase Manhattan Bank training program after graduation and went on to become a portfolio manager for the Mobil Oil Corporation. He capped off his Wall Street career as senior VP and top institutional salesman at Loeb Rhoades & Company.
George’s love of his home state pulled him from back from Wall Street to Vermont in 1978. He and his wife, Maxie, settled in Shelburne, and George established the state’s first Merrill Lynch office in Burlington. A successful manager and investor, George built a thriving franchise for Merrill Lynch and excelled for many years as one of its top producers. He loved teaching people about “the rule of 72” and compounding interest, which he affectionately called “the eighth wonder of the world.”
George retired in 2001, after 22 years of helping people achieve financial success. Spending more time in Berkshire, he reacquainted himself with old friends, made new ones, and indulged his passion for historic preservation. He enjoyed going to auctions and collecting antiques, art, and automobiles.
An intellectual and a studious reader, George had a superlative vocabulary. Yet he never forgot his roots; his farm boy upbringing instilled in him a naturalist’s knowledge of local flora and fauna and a deep connection to nature. On walks with family, he would often point out Jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium, bloodroot, or lady’s slipper – he knew them all.
Many people will remember George reading the Declaration of Independence at his and Maxie’s annual Fourth of July party, often wearing a stovepipe hat. Independence Day was his favorite holiday. He loved hosting family and friends at this event, reveling in traditional music, especially Sousa marches. He considered the day incomplete without a fireworks display.
George served on the board of the Salvation Army, the Mary and Alden Bryan Memorial Gallery, and the vestry of the Trinity Episcopal Church. He was an active member of the Shelburne and Charlotte Rotary and a supporter of the Republican Party and the Ethan Allen Institute. Later in life he enjoyed socializing at the Charlotte Senior Center.
George traveled extensively, venturing as far afield as Honduras, where he helped build houses with the Rotary Club, Canada’s Baffin Island with his two sons, and Kiribati, in the Pacific, where his daughter Katherine was serving in the Peace Corps. He and Maxie often traveled to Maxie’s native Berlin, Germany then toured Europe extensively. He loved exploring new cultures and exchanging stories with people he met on his travels. In later years he self-published “Travels with Maxie,” a collection of his travel diaries.
Children and animals were drawn to George, and his children often remarked on this Dr. Doolittle quality he possessed. He loved his dogs, Sam, Ben, Max, Aik and Lily, his constant companions on many hikes and walks. He had great timing, expressive, brilliant blue eyes, and an endearing ability to wiggle his ears, which he often employed before dropping a punch line. Always ready to listen, console, inspire, or guide, George was a loving husband, father and grandfather; a wonderful uncle, friend, and mentor.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
George is survived by his loving wife of 39 years, Maxie Ewins, of Shelburne; his children from a previous marriage to Nancy Innis: Elizabeth Thomas Ewins of Arlington, Mass., Katherine C. E. Krekel and her children Sarah Elizabeth and Caroline Innis of Silver Spring, Md., George D. Ewins, Jr. and his wife Marie-Michelle Gaudreau of Charlotte, Vt. and their son, Felix George: Georg Sr. and Maxie’s son Fritz S. Ewins and his wife Carly Yates-Ewins of Brooklyn, NY and their children Beau Yates and Rae Arrow; his step-children, Eva K. Wollenberg of Shelburne, Vt. and her son, Nikolas Baya, Franzi D. Wollenberg of Boston, Mass., and Katrine Wollenberg of London, England; his siblings Richard Ewins and his wife Susie of W. Berkshire, Vt., Mary Ewins of W. Berkshire, Vt., and Nancy Vincent and her husband David of St. Albans Bay, Vt., as well as many nieces and nephews and his old walking partner, Lily the Springer spaniel.
A funeral service will be held on Friday July 31 at 11 a.m. at the East Franklin Union Church, 4610 Lake Road, East Franklin, followed by a reception at the Phoenix House in West Berkshire.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in George’s memory can be made to the Vermont Historical Society, the Charlotte Senior Center or the Vermont chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
George’s family acknowledges all of the wonderful caregivers and professionals whose compassionate care helped make George’s final years better. You are all incredible. Thank you.
Messages of condolence may be sent to George’s family on-line through www.spearsfuneralhome.com