IN MEMORIAM: Jim Georgeson, 95;
Former Oneonta Mayor, Civic Leader
ONEONTA – One of Oneonta’s foremost citizens, James Nicholas Georgeson, 95, a former mayor, businessman and SUNY Oneonta official, passed away Wednesday at Focus Otsego Manor.
In recent years, he lived in Oneonta and Green Valley, Ariz.
Jim was born Oct. 4, 1919, in Oneonta, the son of Christina Vlahos and Nicholas Georgeson, both natives of Greece. He married Charlotte Lunn of Oneonta in 1951.
Jim was a lifetime resident of Oneonta except for his teenage years, when he lived in Norwich. After graduating from Norwich High School in 1937, he attended State Teachers College (now SUNY Oneonta) and then Hartwick College.
His formal education was interrupted by World War II: In February 1942, he entered the Army Air Corps. Jim spent four years stationed at Tyndall Field in Panama City, Fla., where he served as supervising officer of 80 aerial gunnery instructors. Following his discharge from active duty in 1946, Jim remained in the Air Force Reserve for 23 years, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969.
Jim resumed his college career at Hartwick College following the war and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1948. He pursued advanced studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving a master of letters in history in 1949.
In 1950, Jim accepted a position as a special agent with Prudential Insurance Company. In 1956, he was appointed field representative for the state Civil Defense Commission.
He was elected mayor at a Democrat in 1959 at a time registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats two-to-one. His administration was noted for bipartisan cooperation and progressive reform. He served one term (1960-62) before returning to full-time employment selling life insurance for Prudential.
In 1964, Jim joined SUNY Oneonta as the college’s director of community relations. He later served as alumni director and admissions counselor, retiring in 1981. Jim joined the Wilber National Bank board of directors in 1982 and remained in that position until 1990.
He was also president or chairman of many local organizations, including Greater Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, Oneonta YMCA Board of Directors, Oneonta Kiwanis Club, Hartwick College Alumni Association, Oneonta City Democratic Committee, and Parent Teacher Organizations of Center Street and Oneonta Junior High Schools.
He served as commander of American Legion Post 259 and as lieutenant governor of Kiwanis Susquehanna Division. Other organizations in which Jim held directorships include Opportunities for Otsego, Oneonta Community Chest, and Future for Oneonta Foundation.
He took an active role in many other local organizations, most notably Oneonta Airport Committee, Indian Hills Girl Scout Council, and Elks Club. Jim chaired successful fundraising drives for Community Chest, Planned Parenthood, and Oneonta YMCA.
Among the many recognitions Jim received during his long career as a public figure in Oneonta were Hartwick College Outstanding Citizen Award, Oneonta Daily Star Civic Achievement Award, Oneonta Jaycee Citizen of the Year Award, and service awards from Oneonta YMCA and The State University of New York. In 2003, he and Charlotte were honored by the Future for Oneonta Foundation as Mr. and Mrs. Oneonta.
In demand as a Master of Ceremonies for over 50 years, Jim was known for his quick wit and good-humored ribbing. He was an avid bowler and lifelong tennis player, winning many tournaments and contests, including the City of Oneonta Singles Tennis Championship in 1953, and serving a stint as coach of the Hartwick College tennis team in the 1950s.
Survivors include his wife, Charlotte; sister, Mary Benjamin of Oneonta; brother-in-law, Joseph S. Lunn of Evans, Georgia; and his children: Rick Georgeson and his wife Anne Woulfe of East Berne; Gail Georgeson and her husband Jeffrey Bisberg of Boulder, Colo.; Diane Georgeson and her friend Dan Maskin of Oneonta; David Georgeson, Town of Maryland; Christine Takores and her husband Lawrence of Wallingford, Conn.. Also grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Alexander and Emma Bisberg, Sara and Patrick Jeffries, Sherry Georgeson, Dylan and Lauren Takores, Erin Miller, her husband Sean and their son James, Diana Sakkos, her husband Theodoros and their son Zachary; and by nieces and nephews, Gregory, Daniel, Susan, and William H. Lunn III, and Steven, Karen, James, Mark and Michael Benjamin.
The Georgeson family gratefully acknowledges the care and support of Otsego Manor and Catskill Area Hospice staff and volunteers.
Calling hours are noon Saturday, Nov. 8, at Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home, 51 Dietz St. Oneonta. A memorial service will immediately follow there at 2 p.m. Burial at Glenwood Cemetery will be private.
Memorial donations may be sent to Future for Oneonta Foundation, Inc., PO Box 134, Oneonta, NY 13820 (http://www.fofoneontany.org/contributions.html) or Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, 1 Birchwood Drive, Oneonta N.Y. 13820 (http://www.cahpc.org/donate.htm).
To share a memory or condolences, please visit www.lhpfuneralhome.com