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Keuka Remembers: George Slocum, 1936-2011

Flags are flying at half-mast today at Keuka College and the Keuka Park U.S. Post Office in honor of a man whose work ethic, service, and spirit stand as an inspiration to many.

George Slocum, whose 50-year service record to the College and its students was recognized earlier this year with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at commencement in May, died Sunday, Oct. 30 at the age of 75. Slocum, who officially retired in June, had been battling cancer and passed away surrounded by all of his family members, including his wife, children and grandchildren, as well as his brother, sister, and nieces.

Slocum began in 1961, as a groundskeeper, at a rate of $1.30/hour. For most of his tenure, he supervised general electrical, plumbing and interior work at Space, Blyley and Saunders residence halls and also handled all mail deliveries between the U.S. Post Office and the campus mailroom and copy center.

Dan DeMay, grounds manager for the College, has worked on campus 32 years and even worked in the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire Department with Slocum, who was a past fire commissioner. The fire department held a fund-raiser breakfast for Slocum Oct. 23 to defray medical expenses and DeMay said the guest of honor was able to attend, along with many family members and friends from both the College and local community. DeMay said he had hoped to send Slocum on a plane ride over the Finger Lakes about a week ago but Slocum suffered a fall the morning the flight was scheduled.

“George was highly respected – just the kindest, most loving man, the most honest person I’ve ever met,” DeMay said. “He was always a father figure to me, so I always called him ‘Uncle George.’ His wife called me Sunday about 4:30 in the morning and said George was calling for me. I went up to the house quickly, because I live close. I talked with George and he told me that he knew it was time and he was ready to go.

“He was certainly surrounded by his family when he passed – there were people three and four deep all around his bed. I couldn’t think of a more loving way to go – to be completely surrounded by your family and friends and neighbors. ”

“What a wonderful man,” said DeMay. “I called everyone (from the facilities department) last night. Several of us went to the house through the weekend, and there were a few of us at his house last night, but [there’s] a lot of long faces today.”

Slocum held a second job, a part-time shift cleaning the Keuka Park post office after working 7 – 3:30 daily on campus, for close to 35 years. According to Roseann Marchenese, officer in charge, as recently as two weeks ago, Slocum came to the post office on his cane, intent on dusting and vacuuming and tried to get the vacuum cleaner out.

“I told him, ‘No, George, you get the feather duster and I’ll vacuum,’” Marchenese recalled. “He went around with the duster in one hand and his cane in the other. He was the sweetest man you’d ever want to meet, kind and knew everyone that walked in the door. He absolutely will be missed by everyone in Keuka Park.”

Postal officer Roseann Marchenese holds the door for Slocum to deliver College mail in this May 2011 image.

Indeed, local residents stopping in to the post office this morning all expressed the same reaction at news of his passing: deep sighs, and a shake of the head, then sympathy to the staff who had worked with him. The deep respect Slocum garnered from his neighbors was evident as those in line paused to hear words of praise for the man so devoted to his work and community.

“He is an inspiration in so many areas of his life – a love for life, for Christ, for his family, for the College, for this community,” said Heather Bassett, another post office staffer, adding how grateful she was that Slocum had friends visiting him “all the time” since his home care began. “He’s a perfect example of an upstanding person, how life should be, despite the struggles he had and I know he had them. What stands out is just how faithful he was.”

When recognizing Slocum in May for his 50-year service record to the College, Joseph Burke, now president emeritus, said Slocum portrayed a value sometimes lost in today’s America: sticking with a long-term commitment over time.

At May commencement, Slocum was vested with the doctoral hood, from Anne Weed, behind, vice president for academic affairs.

“He’s somebody in the organization that may not be at the top but helps create a keen appreciation of what our college is all about. George is the epitome of that kind of person,” Burke said then, adding that Slocum represented many other staffers who quietly do their jobs, come in early and stay late at night. “We’re not going to see another George Slocum for a long time.”

Slocum’s responsibilities took him daily to the campus mailroom and copy center, where Teri Spoor, site manager, and Wendy Wright, on-site specialist, said today they were fortunate and honored to have known “such an unselfish and caring man.”

“His love of life and strong work ethic was an inspiration to all of us.  We could always count on George to make us laugh with a funny story. George loved our students and made a point of asking about each of them, every day. He left his mark on every life he touched, and we feel privileged to have known him,” said Spoor. “Words cannot express how deeply we cared about George – a great man who will be missed forever.”

More on His Legacy

Services

Calling hours for George Slocum will be Thursday, Nov. 3 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at Weldon Funeral Home, 102 East Main St., Penn Yan.

The funeral is Friday, Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 224 Main St., Penn Yan.

Sympathy cards may be sent to George’s wife:

Joyce Slocum
P.O. Box 122
Penn Yan, N.Y. 14478

Share Your Condolences

We invite you to share your memories of George and condolences for his family by leaving a comment below.

10 Responses to Keuka Remembers: George Slocum, 1936-2011

  1. George Loux says:

    I have known George for three years, unfortunately only three years. He always brought a smile to the faces who were around him. No matter what was going on in his life, he was always there to lend an ear. I am going to miss him very much, and the picture I have with him from commencement will always be cherished. That day was the happiest day of my life after 4 years of hard work; but I think I was happier for him after 50 dedicated years to Keuka College. “YOU DA MAN GEORGE”

  2. Alice Durham says:

    I have known George for a long time he was married to my sister Shirley. He was a very nice man and i really like him and he was very good to his family.His children and grandchildren were the love of his life.

  3. Ron, Cindy, Sean, Dao & Chris Thompson says:

    We have lived in Keuka Park for over 25 years and there was never a time that George would not stop and say “Hi” to anyone of us! He was a very caring person, in fact he thought more of others than himself. We will all miss him, he was and will always be a part of Keuka College and Keuka Park history.

  4. Teri Spoor and Wendy Wright says:

    Words can not express how deeply we cared about George — a great man who will live forever. He was an integral part of our Mail Room and we looked forward to seeing him each day. We were so fortunate and honored to have known such an unselfish and caring man. His love of life and strong work ethic was an inspiration to all of us. George loved our students and made a point of asking about each of them every day. We could always count on George to make us laugh with a funny story. He left his mark on every life he touched. We feel privileged to have known him. We send our deepest condolences to his family.

  5. April Colf says:

    As George’s oldest grandchild I have known for 25yrs how amazing he was. I spent almost every Friday night at his house when I was a child. I remember receiving the acceptance letter from Keuka and running down the road to the Post Office to show Papa, the look on his face showed me how proud he was of me. He was so happy that I attended the college he loved dearly.

    Thank You all for your thoughts and prayers for my family!

  6. Jessica Hazzard says:

    George Slocum was a wonderful man. As a close friend of the family and an alumni of Keuka College I can never remember a time when he wouldn’t say hello to me or any other college student. George was a hero for Keuka College and one of the greatest men I’ve ever met. I’m so honored to have known him both on the College level and personal. George lived a life devoted to his family and work. He always knew how to make you smile too. He was an advocate for the students at the college and would do anything he could to make our lives better. I can only wish that his life can be a testomony to others. He never gave up on life and lived it to the fullest. I’m so glad I was able to spend some time with him Friday night at his home and with his family. He will be greatly missed by all that had the honor of knowing him. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family…and I love you all!!! Rest in peace George (papa George) and enjoy heaven because you deserve all of it’s wonders and heaven is so lucky to have you!

  7. Kim says:

    Being a student at Keuka and working in the mail room for two of those year, I got to know George well. He always had a smile and a kind word for me, even on my darkest days he could put a little sunshine in my life. I loved running into him on campus or on my way to the post office….it always seemed to put a spring in my step. George…I pray that God accepts you into his Heaven with open arms and a big beautiful place in it just for you. You deserve nothing but the best and I pray that you’ll get just that!

  8. Jennifer Furner says:

    George was the first person I met when I entered my freshman year at Keuka back in 1995. I moved in early to my room in Saunders and George was the first person to introduce himself to me that day! He asked me if I needed any help moving in and to let him know if there were any problems with my room. From that day on, I have always respected George so much! He cared for everyone on campus, in the same way he cared for his family! When I arrived back on campus in 2002, as a employee, George was once again one of the first people to welcome me back to campus! During my time here at Keuka, I always knew a visit to the Post Office after work would cheer up because George always made sure to see how I was doing. He really cared about me and everyone he met. Even after 50 years, George could still connect with the students and I believe it is was because he had a true love for Keuka College and a genuine concern for people. George was also very humble and dedicated to those he cared about. I have learned a lot from George and he is truly an inspirational man! Rest in Peace George, you are already missed!

  9. Kaitlin says:

    As a student who worked in the mail room all four years of my college career, I was fortunate and honored to have known such an unselfish and caring man. His love of life and strong work ethic was an inspiration to all of us. My thoughts and prayers are with the Keuka College community and his family.

  10. Pam Windover says:

    My deepest sympathy goes out to George’s family. Reading these kind words I feel as though I knew him, although I don’t recall ever meeting him. For the family, I hope you can find peace in knowing his suffering is over.

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