George T. Chelini
With great sorrow in our hearts, we are saddened to announce the passing of George T. Chelini. George, born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA died in his sleep, June 17, 2020, one day shy of his 89th birthday.
George lead an honorable life, always leading by example, with his wife of 45 years, Margie, by his side. His children, Karen, Marilyn, Eric, Remy and step daughter Polly feel blessed to have George as their role model. Additionally, George’s 10 grandchildren, Tony, Gina, Mychal, Vincent, Ariana, Kyra, Cole, Niccolas & Melissa and great-grandchildren Isabella and Vincent will miss their Grandpa immensely. Stepson Dan and Granddaughter Michaela, preceded in death, will light the way for George’s final journey. George also leaves behind two sisters, Margaret and Millie, a brother Ed, and a multitude of nieces, nephews and cousins.
George, a native of Santa Barbara, was one of seven children. After graduating from Santa Barbara High, George entered the US Air Force and served time during the Korean War in Okinawa, Japan and South Korea. George, honorably discharged, returned home and attended UCSB, earning a Bachelor degree. Shortly after, George met his first wife and had 4 children.
George started his illustrious career with the Boys Club of Santa Barbara (now known as Boys & Girls Clubs) in 1955, working in the library. George earned his way to Executive Director of Goleta Boys Club in 1958. George stayed at the Goleta Club until 1975, creating many groundbreaking programs like a Baseball League before Little League; Day Camp, so working parents had a place to send their kids; Football League; Basketball League, fondly known as the “Tomahawk League.” because George loved playing and watching basketball, and many more unique programs that benefited both members and staff.
During this time, the 60s-70s, George ran and was elected to the Goleta Union School District School Board, first as a member, then as President. Girls at that time were grateful for one of George’s many contributions, allowing females to wear pants to school!
In 1975, George and his mentor, Gordon Wormal, formed the United Boys Club and George was named Executive Director of the United Boys Club. Through George’s efforts, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Westside, Carpentaria, Lompoc, and Camp Whittier, were brought under the umbrella of United Boys Club, which George was CEO from 1975 to 1993. George briefly retired only to returned to United in order to find a suitable replacement for him. The obvious choice was, someone who was always by George’s side, starting in the early days of Goleta Boys Club, Sal Rodriguez.
In retirement, George enjoyed traveling to the Southwest with his wife, and collecting art from many of the sights they enjoyed together. Even several bouts of stomach cancer never stopped George.
George always looked forward to spending time with his children and his many grandchildren. George was passionate about photography and would take pictures of the Santa Barbara coast, his grandkids, and anything that caught his eye. George became very skilled in the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging, Ikebana. As an adept photographer, George would arrange the flowers, take pictures, print and frame his works of art. Family always treasured George’s original art.
A Celebration of George’s Life TBD at a future date. In lieu of flowers, you may donate to the George T. Chelini Memorial Fund through the United Boys and Girls Clubs, PO Box 1485, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.