It was standing room only as friends, family, former students, former co-workers, current students and staff members gathered in the Goose Creek CISD Agriscience Center to dedicate the facility to John D. George. George chartered the Ross S. Sterling High School (RSS) chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in 1974 and continued to lead the program until his death in 1996.
Junior Forrest, the first FFA president at RSS in 1974, gave the invocation, and combined FFA members from RSS, Goose Creek Memorial, Robert E. Lee and Stuart Career Tech high schools presented the opening ceremony, facilitated by Kenny Rogers, district lead Ag teacher.
Dr. Randal O’Brien, Goose Creek CISD superintendent, welcomed guests and expressed his appreciation to the committee that spoke to the board for approval of naming the facility. Dr. Melissa Duarte, deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented information about agricultural education courses and pathways available to students to spark their interests and lead to possible future careers. Renea Dillon, director of career and technical education, introduced her staff, which has grown to 15 members with the expansion of the Agriculture programs throughout the district.
Stories – true, even though possibly slightly embellished in the telling – from Forrest; Kevin Parker, former Ag teacher and GCCISD CTE director, as well as Gary”Strawberry” Clifton, longtime friend, brought laughter and tears to the audience.
Forrest told about his teacher’s barbeque fundraisers for FFA and the barbeque he provided for students’ graduations and weddings, even Forrest’s own wedding, which was going to be simple but turned out to be a little more extravagant as a result of George’s help.
“I’ve just patterned my life after John,” Forrest said. “You know, there’s people in your lives, there’s teachers in your lives that make that impression - that make you who you are today. You know there’s days I sure want to reach back and I want to cuss him because some of the things that I put myself through because he’s made me push it to the next level, Not made me, but he’s instilled that in me,” Forrest said. “You look at his family – look at the success of his family. Those three people - I’m talking about [children] Justin, Jennifer and Bub and what they’re doing.”
Parker told about how he, as a new teacher in Brazosport, had a student in need of help clipping a steer to show. Still being “green,” Parker called his friend Bob Schnuriger to ask if he thought George might want to come to Freeport to help. George immediately agreed even though he didn’t know Parker, who later taught at Stuart Career Center and became a friend and colleague of the man who had been kind enough to help a new teacher.
Clifton told about the tragic death of his own 3-year-old son John, and how his family planned to drive to Dallas to bury him. George realized that the tires on Clinton’s truck were nearly bald, so without his knowledge, George took the truck and replaced them with new tires so that the family could travel safely. According to Clifton, neither one of them had much money at the time, so the kind gesture was a sacrifice for George.
“The thing about John was he cared deeply about family, he cared about his students, he cared about life, he cared about what he did, he cared about the future and what was going on around him and the people around him. And he spent his life trying to make things a little better,” Clifton said.
Dr. Anthony Price, deputy superintendent for administrative services, formally dedicated the Goose Creek CISD Agriscience Center to John D. George, and the family stood in the arena as George’s wife Shirley George helped unveil the plaque that will soon be installed at the John D. George Agriscience Center.
John Dave “Bub” George Jr. expressed his appreciation on behalf of the family – siblings Jennifer Guillory and Justin George, mother Shirley, George’s brother Cotton George and sister Samantha Fuller, nieces, nephews and grandchildren – for the honor of having the Agriscience Center named for his father.
The closing ceremony was performed by the FFA students, followed by a reception in the training classroom, including barbeque, thanks to Forrest and Junior’s Smokehouse.