Yesterday morning I received a very upsetting and surprising email that my friend, George O'Neal had died Thursday, and was found in his home by his daughter on Saturday. It was all the more poignant to me because George and I had met less than two weeks earlier at the Argus Day, and he had helped set us up at the Argus Museum for my talk. We met at dinner again, and it was hard to talk because the bar was noisy, but George had told me that he wanted to meet with me again soon to talk about some things, and that was the last thing I had heard from him, other than "Hey, it's good to have you as a friend, and I look forward to getting together."
George was 79, and I know he missed his departed wife Gene very much. She passed away from cancer about 4 years earlier, and I think I somewhat helped him climb out of the depression that gripped him afterwards. We would meet for coffee, or maybe just a brief chat, and he gradually became more involved in photography once more, and started showing up at our Crappy Camera Club meetings. George probably felt a bit old with some of the younger crowd there, but I teased him that at least when he was there, it didn't make me the "old man." He had me over to his place a few times, and he had a nice exhibit of cameras and photographica, and he was always a gracious host. I wish I had known George and Gene back when they were the stalwarts of the Michigan Photographic Historical Society. The two of them started the nucleus of the exhibits at the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor. I know George really cared about that collection, and he was really pleased that it has been so well-curated in recent years
George was interested in lots of things besides cameras and photography, such as minerology, genealogy, and traveling. He grew up in Ann Arbor, was in the US Army from 1945-1947. He and his wife had five children, four who are still living, and nine grandchildren.
I will miss George, and I wish I knew what it was he wanted to talk to me about.