2002- Nov 12th- My Stepfather, George McHenry Passes Away

2002- Nov 12th- My Stepfather, George McHenry Passes Away

My Mother had met George when I was in the fourth grade, when we were living in Spokane. My aunt, Billie, introduced her to George at a square dance. I don’t know that she ever felt the same way about him as she did about my Dad. I think my Father was a more youthful, passionate love, while George was more of a mature, pragmatic kind of love. My dad was an uneducated, volatile, binge drinking alcoholic, womanizer, while George had a college education, was very stable and didn’t drink or smoke. George was a mountaineer and belonged to the Sierra Club.

George worked as an aeronautics engineer and was involved in building missiles or missile silos in Spokane. I believe he was working for either Convair or General Dynamics at that time. He moved to Abilene Texas to work on missile’s or missile silo’s there. Much of his work was considered “classified’ or “secret” as it involved our missile defense system.

Roger was sent to Arkansas around this time. He has said that be believed Mom wanted to get him “out of the way” because he was so disruptive at that time and she didn’t want him to jeopardize her relationship with George. i really don’t know that this is necessarily true, but it is true that Roger was a very angry child and was difficult for Mom to control at times.

My Mom and I took a train from Spokane to Abilene. At that age, I just thought we were going to visit George in Abilene, but then they enrolled me in school there. After a few days, I came home from school one day and Mom showed me her wedding ring. I started crying and was pretty inconsolable. Of course, it was unlikely that my Mother and Father would ever get back together since he already had three kids by another wife, but somehow, my Mother marrying George just seemed more “final” or something.

Eventually, Roger, came to live with us in Abilene and Darlene came there, too. It was a pretty horrible place. It was the worst place that I have ever lived in my lifetime. The children we rode the school bus with were horrible. I had grown up in integrated schools with relatively civilized kids. It was shocking to see how stupid and hateful kids were in Abilene. Schools were still segregated there and the black kids that rode the school bus got off at one stop at an old country school house, while the white kids rode into town to the new, modern school. I speak of all this in more detail elsewhere on this site in an article titled, “Abilene.”

George had five girls from a previous marriage, Sandy, Barbara, Carol, Connie, and Georgie. They all lived in San Diego. George’s parents lived in a suburb of San Diego, too.

My Mom and George got along well throughout their marriage. They did have occasional disagreements but George treated my Mother with much respect. Mom always felt like she had to be the “buffer”  between George and us kids.

When I was in my late teens or early twenties, at some point that i was probably staying with my Mom and George briefly at an apartment complex in Southern California, my African-American friend, Mary Jo, came to visit. My Mother did not want her to come into the house and she implied that George would not want her to because she was black.

After I was grown and was living with Milton, Mom would come and visit from time to time for several years. George never came with her. I always thought the reason he didn’t stay with us was because Milton was African-American. I always assumed George was a bit racist. He had grown up in Chicago and i think Chicago is pretty infamous about the racism there.

George and I were with my Mother when she passed away. As she was taking her last breaths, I started freaking out. Even though, I knew intellectually, that there was no point in a crash cart, I started yelling for the nurses to come quickly. George was crying and reminded me that there was no point and I realized he was right.

George remarried within about six months to a woman named Darlene, that he had met at a mountaineering club. I don’t know if he had met Darlene prior to Mom passing away or after she passed away. It did seem like his relationship and then marriage to her was very quick after my Mother’s passing. It is my opinion that straight men that are used to women taking care of them all their lives, don’t do very well on their own.

The shocking thing to me was that after George married Darlene, he contacted me and said that they wanted to visit Milton and I on their way to Southern California. He had bought a truck and a fifth-wheel and he and Darlene had now become “snowbirds.” He and Darlene did come to visit and did stay overnight in our home and they seemed to get along with Milton just fine. We all went out to dinner, too. So, to this day, I don’t know if George was really as racist as my Mom implied or if that was just her being a “buffer” or if it was all just due to her own racism?

I don’t know how long it was that George and Darlene were married before George had his stroke. I know he was pretty sick at the end. Sadly, he had not prepared a will and so Darlene inherited everything and none of George’s five girls received a dime from his estate.

When i flew up to Yakima for the service, (George was cremated), I had to fly a small aircraft into Yakima on the last leg of the flight. Barbie was on the same flight. I approached her in the airport. It was the first time I had seen her in many years. In the picture below, from left to right is Darlene’s son, Larry (Rocky) Noonan; Darlene’s daughter-in-law, married to Chris Tasker, Kristen; Then my cousin, Nola; Darlene is next to her. I think that is her son, Chris, behind her and Gail next to her. In front of them is Wynter. Next to Gail is George’s daughter, Carol. I am standing behind her and George’s girl, Connie or Georgie. That must be either Connie or Georgie behind. Then Sandy. Then Barbie.


Rocky, Kristen, Nola, Darlene, Chris, Gail, Wynter, Carol, Me, Connie, Georgie, Sandy, Barbie


Nola, me, Gail, Darlene at George’s Funeral




Sandie, Carol, Barbie, Connie and Georgie








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