George R. Paradis

Posted April 26, 2013, at 7:36 p.m.

PORTLAND – George R. Paradis, 89, died peacefully April 11, 2013. He was born April 21, 1923, in Nashua, N.H., the son of Dr. R. Joseph and Evelyn Lee Paradis.

At eight years old, after the untimely death of his parents, George, along with his younger sister, Rachel, made his home with his maternal uncle Eugene J. Lee and wife, Agnes Sullivan Lee, in Bangor. George graduated from John Bapst High School in 1940 and attended the University of Maine before enlisting with the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served as a staff sergeant with the 411th Bombardment Squadron in Guam. After the war, he returned to the states and enrolled at Bowdoin College where he majored in english, graduating with the class of 1949. George enjoyed a full and varied professional life that started with his position as assistant to the executive director of the sesquicentennial fund at Bowdoin. He then worked as a trainee at Woodward and Lothrop in Washington, D.C., and in 1950 accepted a position with Young and Rubicam in New York City. Returning to Maine, George became public relations director for the United Fund of Portland. In 1960, George chose a new career path and began teaching english at Portland schools, including Deering High School. He left Deering in 1968 to become chairman of the English Department at Southern Maine Technical Institute, now Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, where he worked until his retirement in 1983. While teaching, he also earned a master’s degree from Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, Vermont. After retirement, George spent numerous years volunteering at Maine Medical Center, where he made many dear friends. He also served on the board of Portland Museum of Art. George loved life and those around him. He was very close to his beloved sister, Rachel, and her family in Bangor and enjoyed the company of and lifelong correspondence with many of his students as well as with colleagues from his New York City days. In Portland, he enjoyed his friends, books, the arts, walks through downtown and volunteering. His great wit, style and genuine warmth endeared him to all he met. He encouraged the young people with whom he easily connected to look beyond the obvious and to expand their horizons. To his nephews, he was the favorite uncle, the one who drove a Volkswagen Bug, spent summers at Crescent Beach, had a cat with an enchanting name, Kyo, had a friendship with Bette Davis, read The New Yorker and owned all those books. At Christmas his were the gifts you could never anticipate. He was delightfully unpredictable yet solidly dependable. Well educated, well read, well spoken, frank, giving and always with a smile and a bon mot; George, a gentleman of the old school, will be missed.

He is survived by nephews, Peter E. Zelz and wife, Merlita, of Redwood City, Calif., Eric L. Zelz and wife, Abigail, of Bangor and David A. Zelz and wife, Michaela, of Bangor; great-nieces, Theresa Barbere and husband, Erik, of Southwest Harbor and Charlotte Zelz of Bangor; great-nephew, Amado Mendoza of Washington, D.C.; and dear friend Anna Benoit of Portland. He was predeceased by his sister, Rachel; and brother-in-law, Francis Zelz.

In accordance with George’s wishes, there will be no formal funeral service. Those who wish to remember George in a special way may make gifts in his memory to Maine Charitable Mechanic Association Library, Portland, or Bangor Public Library. Arrangements are being handled by Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Homes & Cremation Services. Online condolences may be expressed at: www.ctcrawford.com.

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