George was born Nov. 16th1928. in a German Village in Romania, known as Gross-Alisch. He was the third child of Stefan and Sara Schuller Paul, having two older siblings, brother Stefan and sister Sara. The Paul’s were farmers and were ethnic Germans who ancestors established the small town 800 years prior and retained their German language and customs.
During WWII, George and his childhood friend saw the Russian Army coming over the hills towards their town, fearing they would be captured they were able to race after and hop on a fleeing villager’s wagon as the horses that were pulling the wagon galloped by. At 15 years old on foot, with no jacket and just the clothes on his back he traveled with the other evacuees from other villages. They eventually all jammed into train cattle cars, fleeing to Hungary. For 6 weeks they all endured poor conditions, starvation and constant strafing by fighter planes. They eventually arrived in Linz, Austria, around his 16th Birthday. Unfortunately George would never see his parents again and couldn’t return to his village. His family was trapped in Romania after the war ended. It was closed off to the outside world when the Communists took over. His family lived a very poor and dreary life under communist rule till they were allowed to immigrate to Germany after the collapse the USSR in the mid nineteen eighties. He lived in Austria for 10yrs before immigrating to Canada with a suitcase, $60 and didn’t speak the language. There he found work on a farm doing back breaking work picking tobacco. He met his future wife Elwira Neumann who lived in Michigan and was visiting Canada. They were married in Canada in 1957 and settled in Detroit. They moved to Santa Barbara, California in 1963 with their two boys to eventually settle in Goleta, CA in 1965.
George worked for Val’s Painting and Drywall as the superintendent for 25 yrs before he retired in 1988. He lived a very full life. His hardships during the war never affected his positive outlook, and to live life in the present. The beloved “Opa”(as he was known to his grand children) was an amazing active presence in their lives. He was a fun and extraordinary grandfather in ordinary daily excursions with the four grand kids. They have great memories of him whether he was taking them to the airport to watch the planes take off, going to Goleta beach or trips to Anna’s Bakery.
Hiking, bike riding and gardening were his passions. His incredible health provided him the means to hike in our nearby mountains including some of the trails that lead up to the top of Camino Cielo. He rode his bike frequently well into his late 80’s. He had a green thumb when it came to growing his vegetable garden and fruit trees. Music & dancing were a part of his life too, in fact, it was at a dance years after his divorce where he met Bobbie Piatt. Bobbie who was his love and partner for 18 years They shared a vibrant relationship, had mutual respect for each other and enjoyed traveling on many trips all over the world.
George was excited the day he became a citizen in the 1960’s, and he was very proud to be an American and thought it was a privilege to live in USA. He over came his handy cap of coming here with practically nothing, and not speaking the language with hard work, never complaining or expecting a hand out to live the American dream.
The family members will greatly miss him, he was deeply loved, and fostered many memories of laughter with him. Along with his treasured influence on our lives, and fascinating stories of his homeland that we know as our family heritage. George was close to his family in Europe, and kept in contact with relatives by phone and travel visits in later years, and his son’s continue these valuable family relationships. The Gross-Alisch village church by his childhood home rang the bells in honor of his passing, to which we are deeply touched of this beautiful arrangement to honor his 91 years of life.
George is preceded in death by his father Stephan & mother Sara, brother Stephan (Stipins), sister Sara (Ziri). George “is survived by his son Gerhard and wife Eva, his son Robert and wife Kim, and his Grandchildren, Brandon, Ryan, Joshua, and Renee.
His passing was on March 25th, however the circumstances of the COVID pandemic afforded only a very small gathering of immediate family at a graveside service. The farewell ceremony included a very personal eulogy from a family pastor who had met George previously. It was a beautiful service highlighting George’s life story, and where the song “I Could Only Imagine” was sang accompanied with a guitar. I know all who would have liked to have been there did not have a chance to attend, please know we heard how special the many people were in his life. You blessed him and he felt it…and we appreciate your hearts. We raise a smile to our loved one, who will always be remembered for his energy, jovial attitude, and kindness he spread to all. A memorial will be planned for a later date. For more information on the memorial e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may call 805 683-1635 and leave a message.