George Clinton Livingston, born on July 11th 1938, in Buffalo, NY, died peacefully that very same day in 2020.
George loved being on the water, and this passion ran like a current through the course of his life. He discovered rowing while attending Lafayette High School, and was hooked by the sport. At the West Side Rowing Club he found instruction and storied camaraderie, of which he looked back upon fondly. He became a national champion: the races he won in Philadelphia and St. Catherine’s, Canada, are too numerous to count. He even participated in the Olympic Trials of 1956, making a strong showing in a crew of 4. Later on as a cadet at The Citadel he still rowed with great dedication, often alone on the water, as no rowing program existed at the military college at that time.
After a few years’ service in the Air Force, he began his career at Buffalo Savings Bank. Throughout his career in financial services, and through raising his first two sons Andy and Tim, he still found time to row. He ended his career as an institutional bond portfolio manager. After having worked in New York City for many years he and his wife Shirley retired early to Williamsburg in 1996 with their young son Tom.
George’s passion for the water shone through in the way he enjoyed his retirement. In Williamsburg, he volunteered for a while as a rowing coach at the College of William and Mary. And while many evenings were spent peacefully on the back porch with his wife and a good book, many more were spent in pursuit of a new hobby: ship modeling. He joined and became an enthusiastic member of the Hampton Roads Ship Modeling Society. Over the years the collection of models he made grew in quality, quantity, and sheer variety.
Ship models are curious objects to behold. Even the grandest model can fade into the landscape of a room, appearing to a casual observer as particularly elegant decor. But closer examination reveals a world of detail. The hull and deck are made from the tiniest pieces of wood, each carefully bent and seamlessly glued; each thread of rigging carefully pulled taut in a delicate balance. On larger sailing vessels the workmanship appears dizzyingly complex, and nearly beyond the ability of human hands. Tiny blemishes might hint at the story of its creation. But holistically, a ship model is timeless: sleek, urgently purposeful, yet calling to mind times and experiences long past and primordially human, as ancient as the first act of setting an oar to water and pulling away from shore. To make a ship model requires precision, concentration, and above all incredible endurance. This sort of endurance is only found in the presence of great passion and patient, abiding love. George’s models, in this grand sense, symbolize his own wisdom and spirit, and are testament to why he was loved by so many, and for so long.