Rotarian George Sylvester
Club President 2012-2013
George Sylvester, Air Force 3-Star General, West Point graduate, fighter pilot in Viet Nam, community volunteer and leader, husband, father, grand and great-grand father. He was known by all as a warm and personable man of integrity, living the West Point motto Duty, Honor, Country.
Born in Riverside, NJ, August 10, 1927, George grew up in Philadelphia and Rochester, NY. Entering West Point at age 17, he was a star athlete and set records in the high hurdles. He was a born leader-his intellect, fairness, optimism, sportsmanship, charisma, and kindness admired by all. Upon graduation in 1949, he married Elaine Winderling of Yonkers, New York and they launched together on a 32 year career in the U.S Air Force, raising three children and moving 17 times.
As a fighter pilot, he flew 67 combat missions in the Vietnam War, where he commanded a squadron of F-4 Phantoms based at Danang. He was an instructor at West Point (following a Masters degree from Georgetown Univ.) and considered it a great privilege to lead this country's finest young men and women at all levels within the Air Force. In his capstone assignment he commanded the Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH which was responsible for developing aircraft and new weapon systems that are influential today in the defense of the country.
He retired in 1981 as Lieutenant General. After military retirement George worked as a consultant in the aerospace industry for 16 years. Following that retirement, he and Elaine took on a new adventure - settling in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on a 67-acre farm, where among other endeavors they raised llamas. Elaine soon learned that George would never truly retire, as he devoted much of his time to community development of that rural region. In 2009, after spending many warm winters in Florida, they moved full time to Palm Beach Shores, FL.
George was a devoted volunteer in the local community: President of Singer Island Rotary, board member of Riviera Beach YouthBuild, nature walk leader at MacArthur Beach State Park, disaster relief volunteer for the Red Cross, mentor to a wounded warrior, and active member of Faith Lutheran Church in North Palm Beach. In June 2014 the family gathered to celebrate their 65 years of marriage which includes 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren-with more to come. He and Elaine were a true partnership and he would credit her with bringing him a lifetime of happiness.
On March 2nd, 2015, he succumbed to a 40 year battle with lung disease (COPD). He spent his last years in confident assurance of the joy of heaven.