George Frederick Black died Sunday, July 30, 2017 at his home in Galveston following a brief battle with cancer. His wife, Sherry, was at his bedside. He was 70 years old.
George was born on Galveston Island June 30, 1947 at St. Mary’s Hospital and adopted at birth by Ellis Julian and Alvenia Augusta Schmiech Black (a fifth-generation Galvestonian.) An only child, his adoptive father died when George was 12. Following the death of his adoptive mother, George began to search for his natural parents. Even though his birth parents – Peter Paul and Marcelle Gangl – were deceased by the time George concluded his search, he located and connected with his brother Donal Gangl (who relocated and now resides in Galveston.) George also learned he had a brother, David Baker; and two sisters – Judy Kiker and Paula Yetter, also now deceased.
Married for over 46 years, George is survived by his loving wife, Sherry. He is also survived by their son, Joshua, who resides in Hilo, Hawaii; brother, Donal Gangl; first cousin, Carolyn Lowe and husband, Duane of Baytown; sisters-in-law, Barbara Austen, of Galveston; Jackie Sauceda and husband, Fidel, of Galveston; Donna Fincham of Hilo, Hawaii; and many other nieces and nephews.
George was the epitome of a BOI (born on the island.) He wore proudly – all his adult life – a diamond-studded BOI ring that always reminded him of his roots and birthplace. He loved this island and its people, and George will be most remembered for what he gave back to his birth place and community. Having grown up extremely poor, he recognized early on the importance of helping others help themselves to have a better life and to give back to his community as he was able. As a parent, George served as a scout master for his son’s cub scout and boy scout troops – and served as scout master all the way through his son, Josh, receiving his Eagle Scout badge. During his years of volunteering with the Boy Scouts, George served as Scout Cub Master, Scout Master, Island District Chairman, Bay Area Council/BSA; Assistant National Boy Scout Jamboree Master (in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia); Philmont Trek Master in New Mexico, and was awarded The Silver Beaver District Award – scouting’s most prestigious and highest honor – by the Bay Area Council of Boy Scouts. George commented many times that “it was one of his greatest pleasures to see his boys grow up and become successful men in their communities.”
In addition to his many years volunteering with Scouting projects and programs, George gave back to his community through the Jaycees. From age 23 until he was 41, his service to the community was focused on volunteer work with the Jaycees. He served as local club president and was recognized as Most Outstanding Local President by the Texas Jaycees in 1976. He was also nominated as a Jaycee International Senator – the highest honor bestowed on a member by their local chapter.
Following almost two decades of service with the Jaycees, George became active in the Kiwanis Club (local chapter meets Wednesday morning at The Meridian) and served as Club President. In addition to continuing an active role in his local Kiwanis Club, George was a 32nd degree mason and member of the Galveston Scottish Rite. George served on various committees for the City – including the Charter Review Commission, the Institutional Audit Committee for UTMB, was a member of the UTMB President’s Cabinet, and served also as vice-president for the Community Arts Council. In 2004, George was elected to the Board of Regents for Galveston College and was serving on that board at the time of his death.
One of his most fun activities was his 20 years of volunteering with Galveston Mardi Gras events. Beginning in 1996, George began his reign in the Krewe of Gambrinus – first as Krewe Captain and then as King of Gambrinus in 1998. George also served as Parade Marshall for the Munchkins (children’s parade) and volunteered as Parade Marshall for the inaugural Knights of Momus Grand Parade in 1984. In 2014, George was honored to receive the George P. Mitchell Mardi Gras Award.
Yet to many, George will most be remembered because of his commitment, loyalty and enthusiasm for his church – First Lutheran. Over the last two decades, George Black was synonymous with Island Oktoberfest – First Lutheran’s annual fall festival. Seen every year wearing his “iconic German lederhosen”, George served for several years as General Chairman, and until his death, he was chair for Entertainment and Sponsorships. From the beginning of his involvement with this festival, George’s goal was to “keep Oktoberfest a free event” for the community and its visitors. George also served on First Lutheran’s Capital Campaigns, as a trustee for the First Lutheran Church Endowment Fund, and as President of the Vestry (at both St. Paul’s Lutheran and First Lutheran.) One of his proudest accomplishments at First Lutheran was the establishment of Fanfare – Lutheran Music Academy. He firmly believed that public education on the island lacked a curriculum – and a place – for under-privileged youngsters to gain an education and appreciation for music and the arts. Since 2009, Galveston now has such a facility (located on the church grounds) providing a high-quality curriculum and excellent instructors teaching music, art and drama to local youngsters and youth.
Besides his commitment and dedication to his community, George always looked forward to traveling with Sherry and to hunting and fishing excursions with his special friends. He and Sherry’s favorite destinations included Australia, Mexico, Istanbul, Turkey; Hawaii and Canada. In addition to hunting, fishing and traveling, George loved the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. For many, many years, he’d been a season ticket-holder of four seats for each of his two favorite teams. His long-standing friends who attended the games with George were known as the “A-Team,” and they included – in addition to George – Tony Scofelia, John Willis and Joe Kingsbury. And, another sign of George’s generosity – if the seats weren’t going to be used, George donated his tickets to various local charities to include in their annual fundraising auctions. Attending these baseball and football games with his friends was another of George’s great pleasures.
An entrepreneur at heart, George enjoyed a diverse and successful career that spanned several decades. A graduate of Ball High School, George attended Alvin Junior College and Texas A&M University before beginning his professional career at First Hutchings Sealy National Bank and later at American National Insurance Company as a computer programmer. From there, George and Sherry became landlords when they purchased apartment complexes in Galveston/Galveston County. From there, they bought a Baskin Robbins franchise and a corner grocery store on the Island. Next, George became a founding member of the Robert Shields and Associates (RSA) Information/Technology staffing firm. With the untimely death of his partner, Robert Shields, George took over the business and expanded and grew RSA to ultimately acquire a managed IT services firm in Webster. During this expansion, George rebranded the company with its new (and present) name: 3Coast. George was President and CEO of 3Coast at the time of his death.
A Memorial Service will be held at First Lutheran Church, 2415 Winnie, Thursday, August 10 at 11am. George had requested his body be cremated. Contributions may be made in George’s memory to First Lutheran Church and/or the Lutheran Music Academy – Fanfare, 2415 Winnie, Galveston, Texas 77550; to the Galveston College Foundation, c/o Galveston College, 4015 Avenue Q, Galveston, Texas 77550; or to a charity of one’s choosing in his memory.
George Black loved this island and his island home. He loved giving back to those less fortunate. He had a vision to see what needed to be done and the gift to have the talent and the ability to make that “vision” a reality to those in need. To many, George was “larger than life.” He had many, many great friends – and you know who you are! George Black had a strong faith in God. He loved his family, his church and his community. That’s who George Black was: A true “every-day” hero.