June 13, 1936 – April 1, 2023
George Edward John Sawyer, Jr. passed away on Saturday, April 1, 2023, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and influence for generations to come. Born on Friday, June 13, 1936, in Murray Hill, New Jersey, George was the son of George E.J. Sawyer, Sr. and Edna Rose Krebs Sawyer. He was preceded in death by his father; mother; his wife of eleven years, Judy Anne Sawyer; and his beloved sister, Jean Sawyer Kahan.
George is survived by his wife of 49 years, Helen “Betty” Lindenfelser Sawyer; and their four sons, George E.J. “Skip” Sawyer III (Amanda), of Victoria, VA, W. Erich Sawyer (Michelle), of Elliston, VA, Michael B. Sawyer (Jackie), and David A. Sawyer (Michelle) of Chester, VA. He was a beloved grandfather to ten grandchildren, G. E. John IV, Daniel, Ashley, Laura, Ellie, Ruby, Maddie, Odie, Nate, and Henry; and five great-grandchildren, who will cherish his memory forever.
George was a giant of a man who made a significant impact on his community, his country, and the world. In his early years, “Blitz,” as he was called back then, was quite the runner. His record the fastest time for running the half-mile from his high school still stands over 70 years later, he always got a laugh by following with, “they switched to meters right after I graduated.”
He received a Bachelors Degree in Industrial Forestry from NC State. George was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow, who instilled the values of scouting in his sons and grandchildren, creating a lasting legacy of service and leadership. Sergeant George Sawyer was an Army Veteran, serving in the 625 Engineer Company (Forestry). George was a founding member of the Providence Forge rescue squad and served as a lifesaving volunteer for variety of rural rescue squads and fire departments over the decades. George was known to keep a fire rake in the bed of his truck just in case there was a forest fire, that way he would “have something to lean on to watch the tractor work.” George was a lifelong forester and passed his knowledge to the next generation through a variety of volunteer programs and taught forestry through the 4H programs for three decades.
George had a lifelong love for music starting from childhood lasting until his last days on earth. His love of music was evident in his low bass voice; singing in church choirs, plays, fundraisers, and talent shows. George was a member of the Marching Band at NC State University, and continued to play clarinet in a variety of bands throughout his life and was a founding member of the Richmond Concert Band.
George had many interests and hobbies. George was a traveler and adventurer who visited most of the world’s corners and continents. George had a passion for military history, and in his 50’s, George decided he wanted to learn how to scuba dive so he could dive on a sunken German U-boat before he “got too old.” George was in his 70’s on his last dive off the Normandy coast of France, where he retrieved a propeller off a Higgins Boat. Maybe that isn’t exactly the way that happened, but that’s the story as it’s told.
In retirement, George kept his hands strong as an accomplished latch-hook artist, winning blue ribbon county and state fair acclaim with hundreds of wall rug hangings on display across the country. He collected stamps and coins from across the world, with several countries no longer in existence. He established community gardens to feed seniors fresh produce and made artisan fresh-baked goods, including his nearly famous orange rolls. He spent a great deal of time in God’s great outdoors, hunting, fishing, hiking, cruising timber, and later boring holes with his “mud brothers” searching for well sites and land that would perk. George was a dangerous man with a fishing pole, fresh or saltwater, it did not matter, fish would tremble at the mere sound of his name. An avid hunter with his beloved Stevens double barrel that he bought “used at a hardware store in Evans, Georgia for $6.50.” In his later years, he perfected the art of the nap, but even in eternal sleep his impact on the world continues to be felt.
George’s life was one of service, generosity, and love. He believed in giving back to his community, his country, and his world, and he did so with unwavering dedication and commitment. He taught his sons you leave a place better than you found it. He was a man of integrity, kindness, and humor, and his legacy will continue to inspire and guide those who knew him. As the Greek proverb goes, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” Old George planted many such trees, and we are all grateful for his life and his legacy. Rest in peace, dear friend, you will be deeply missed, don’t forget to pick up a box of treats along the way, there is going to be quite a few wagging tails waiting for you on the other side of the pearly gates.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 6600 Greenyard Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832 or Boy Scouts Heart of Virginia Council, located at 8090 Villa Park Dr., Richmond, VA 23228.
A memorial service will take place at Trinity Methodist Church, 6600 Greenyard Rd., Chesterfield, VA, 23832, at 2:00 PM, on Saturday, April 15, 2023, with a light reception to follow. Visitation will take place on Friday, April 14, 2023, from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M., at J.T. Morriss & Son Funeral Home, 3050 West Hundred Rd., Chester, VA 23831. Burial will be private and take place at a later date.