GEORGE D. KOENIG left an indelible print in the lives
of his childhood friends when his family left Ranger
for Elk Grove Village, suburban Chicago, where both
of his parents had the promise of better-paying jobs
as teachers. This move came at the end of our freshman
year at RHS. More often at first, letters regularly
traveled back and forth between his two homes keeping
friends up to date.
George was born in Ranger, TX on August 31, 1942, & lived
with his family in the old T&P Camp just off the Caddo
Highway. He was the next-to-the-oldest after his brother
Claude. The two younger members of the family were brother
Robert and sister Mary Helen. Both Mr. & Mrs. A.G. Koenig
taught in the Ranger ISD. She was a social studies teacher,
teaching all of us Texas history in the seventh grade. He
taught speech as well as social studies in high school.
In 1956, our freshman year, Mr. Koenig directed an all-school
play, "The Boarding House Reach", in which three members of
our class had parts. The play centered around the antics of
best friends Hercules and Wilbur, played by George & Mike
Herrington. Nellie Sue Vinson was also in the show.
After finishing high school in Illinois, George went on to
the University of Minnesota, where he earned a degree in
forestry. That was where he met his wife Sandra; they married
young at the end of their first year of college. Both Walter
Blackwell and Mike Herrington considered driving to Minnesota
for the wedding. In 1961 Minnesota seemed a long ways from
Texas. A year later George and Sandra's only child Allen was
George worked throughout the Rocky Mountain/Pacific Northwest
for 27 years in forestry for the Burlington Northern Railroad.
He even worked on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens for a couple of
years prior to its spectacular and deadly eruption. He also
worked in commercial photography in his later years.
George was forever the adventurer. Once, while on a timber
survey in Canada, he was knocked down and run over by a charging
grizzly bear that continued on chasing another man. George had
barely felt the paws of the big animal passing over his chest
and suffered no injuries.
Besides membership in several civic and charitable organizations,
George enjoyed trap shooting (he won numerous awards), fishing,
hunting, photography, traveling, and rose gardening (for which
he was especially well known).
In 1994 George, at the prodding of several of his boyhood friends,
came all the way from Tacoma, Washington, to participate in the
biennial Ranger homecoming and class reunion. He obviously had a
grand time as his beaming face in the class photo affirms. His
mother of Aurora, Illinois, and his wife Sandra of Tacoma attest
to the fact that George had immensely enjoyed the return to his
hometown and seeing old friends.
One of George's favorite pastimes was SCUBA diving. He volunteered
his skills with Sea Scouts on their boat Odyssey. He held the rating
of Master SCUBA diver. His brother Claude remembers having seen George
surface from fast current in 75 ft. water with a 13-foot octopus.
George's passion for diving was a factor in his early death. Diving
in the Seattle harbor to help repair a tugboat, he apparently came
into contact with some dangerous pollutant that permeated his wet
suit and caused him to have a seizure and go into a coma. He died
less than a week later on December 15, 1998. Article by Mike
George & Mike in 1956 school play