We mourn the death of a local hero, John R. George, Jr. John was born on Jan. 13, 1960, in Apollo Penn. He was 59. He called Mountain Ranch his home since 2004. John passed away at home of a massive heart attack in the presence of his wife Barbara, first responders and friend Erik Kolbeck. John was educated in Southern California, and graduated from Huntington Beach High School two years ahead of his class. He continued his education at Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College, earning a Master Mechanic’s Certificate. John served in the USMC from 1980 to 1986. During his life, John worked in a variety of trades, from mechanic, concrete, home demolition work, but being a mechanic was his life from the time he was a teenager until mid-life. John worked hard at everything he was tasked with and paid the price with broken fingers, hearing loss, arthritis, back injuries and many more hardships to his body. When he changed his career path, he became the Vocational Technology Department at Los Medanos College, where he was instrumental in creating a money-making department, in which he managed until his resignation in 2004. From there he worked as a service writer for 49er Subaru and the Jackson Ford dealership until it closed. 2004 was a difficult year for John as he lost his best friend and father to cancer. He and his wife decided to move to Mountain Ranch and found their paradise. John loved the outdoors and was an avid bowhunter and fisherman. He used to say that some of his best times were spent at deer camp and crab camp with his dear friends.
On a chance meeting with an old friend, Frank Neith, he started working for Valley Springs Tow and Dismantling. John loved driving tow truck, though he often said, “the hours suck.” He stayed with VSTD for about eight years. He opened up Motherlode Mobil Repair in 2015, not much before the Butte Fire destroyed his dreams along with his home and shop. During the fire, John joined his Central Fire firefighters and volunteers fighting the brutal fire. John operated the water tender, delivering the much-needed water to the fighting fire engines, even helping with logistics for the engines not familiar with Mountain Ranch. At one point he even drove a fire engine, pulled hose and fought the fire alongside the many firefighters. He was devastated at his losses but very proud of his time fighting the Butte Fire.
After the fire, John and his family moved from couch to couch, house to house, until one day the home of their dreams was for sale. John would say how much he loved the home and land. He only had to look, and wildlife was all around him, and he loved that.
Since the fire had destroyed his mobile mechanic business, John decided to open his own towing company. Soon after, Motherlode Towing was born. John served the Calaveras communities from the county line at Camanche to the city limits of Angels Camp. As he built the business, he contracted with CHP, Sheriff and county to respond to road emergencies, abatement and impound. He truly loved the emergency side of his business, perhaps for the adrenalin rush. John built a strong relationship with our local CHP, Sheriff and county and they relied on him because they knew John would follow through and get the job done no matter what. He loved serving his community and law enforcement. He was truly happy with his career path, home, family and friends. He was in the best place he’d ever been.
Many times, customers would post their gratitude for John’s generosity, kindness and professionalism. He took his work very seriously and tried to help when and wherever his duty called, and his loss will resonate though the county far and wide.
John is survived by Barbara, his beloved wife of 18 years, and daughter, Evelyn, the apple of his eye. He is also survived by his paternal aunt and husband, a sister, two nieces, two nephews and several others. Predeceased are his father and mother
A service and celebration of life is Friday, March 15, beginning at St. Andrews Catholic Church in San Andreas with a viewing from 9-11 a.m., mass 11-noon, honor guard and patriot’s dedication, gun salute and flag presentation. The Central Fire engine will lead the procession to Mountain Ranch where a celebration of life will occur at Town Hall. John didn’t want a funeral, he wanted a party so he could go out the same way he lived.