George Elish, age 95, passed away peacefully on August 5, 2021. He was the devoted husband of Lois (nee Holem) for 67 years, loving father of Dana Smith, Allison (Frank) Guifarro, and Laurie Elish-Piper (Steve) Piper. He is also survived by four beloved grandchildren, Michael Piper, Matthew Guifarro, Cameron Smith, and Kyra Smith and multiple nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.
Born in East Chicago, Indiana, George was the youngest child of Nicholas and Lottie (nee Cergizan) Elish. As the son of Romanian immigrants, he learned to speak English in school and developed a love of language and learning that laid the groundwork for his American Dream. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Mary, and brothers, Nick, Emil, Julius, and John. George graduated from Washington High School in East Chicago, Indiana in 1943. He served in the Army Air Corps (now Air Force) during World War II. He was wounded while training as a tail gunner and suffered a permanent partial hearing loss. In 2012, he participated in an Honor Flight Chicago trip to Washington, DC where he was able to travel with other WWII veterans from the area to see the WWII Memorial.
After serving in the military, George attended Indiana University and transferred to and graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University. He also earned a master’s degree at Indiana University. George had a long career focused on teaching, serving as a guidance counselor, and coaching in Dyer (now Lake Central), Munster, and East Chicago schools. He retired after 41 years of service in education leaving behind generations of students and players who benefited from his commitment to hard work, care, patience, attention to detail, and excellence.
An accomplished left-handed pitcher, George was inducted into the East Chicago Sports Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Indiana State University I-Club where he was honored for multiple accomplishments including being the Sycamore’s 1949 outstanding pitcher for his 5-0 record which included a 15-inning performance against DePauw where he gave up only one run in the first inning then pitched 14 scoreless frames. During his first year at Indiana State, John Wooden was his baseball coach (before leaving to become the UCLA basketball coach), and the two maintained correspondence over the years. George also pitched for the American Legion Post 266 when they won the 1942 American League Junior Indiana state championship but lost the national tournament to a team from St. Louis on which Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola played. George was also on the Post 266 team when they won the 1949 American Legion Senior state title. He had two tryouts with the Chicago White Sox, but a chip in his left shoulder cut short his dreams of playing in the major leagues. He chose then to focus on his dreams of teaching, counseling, coaching, sustaining a long and happy marriage, and raising a strong and productive family.
A life-long sports fan, gardener, collector, and kind soul, he will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and neighbors.
Visitation will be Saturday, September 11, 2021 at Hillside Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 8941 Kleinman Rd (one block south of Ridge Rd) Highland, IN, 46322 from 9:00 am to 11:30 am with a Celebration of Life at 11:30 am. Burial at Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens.
For additional information, please contact Hillside Funeral Home & Cremation Center Konnie Kuiper-Kevin Nordyke by calling us at 219-838-0800 or visiting us at www.hillsidefhcares.com
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