Mervin Louis George, Sr:’He faithfully, diligently, resourcefully, and unfailingly performed his sacred duties’
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Mervin Louis George Sr. popular musician, Hupa Tribal Ceremonial leader, and familial patriarch left this world peacefully and went to the Ch’idilye’diwinte-ding (place where the Ancestors dance forever) on August 31, 2018 at the age of 74. He was born October 21,1943 in Eureka, California to Elmer Gray George and Winnifred (Baldy) George. The second of three children his early life was spent playing with his siblings and cousins at the Baldy/George Farm at K’inchiwhq’it (On the nose place) near Norton Field and Hwy 96 in Hoopa. He learned early to sing and play the piano participating first in his family’s band. He started his professional musical career at the age of 12 earning $30 by playing the drums for his sister Rosalia.
He went to school at Hoopa Elementary and really blossomed musically at Hoopa High where his band “The Offbeats” played school functions and appeared on KIEM TV Channel 3’s Redwood Bandstand singing “Stagger Lee”. He played football and track earning letters all four years and an HDN White Star for HVHS Football. He married his high school sweetheart and Teenage Club co-member Laura Lee Grant, September 25, 1964. This September would’ve been 54 years of marriage.
He worked for a brief time at the Humboldt Fir Veneer Plant as a “tipple operator.” After two years he then worked for the Public Health Service putting in septic tanks, water, and irrigation systems. This began a career which found him next at the City of Eureka Public Works Department where he retired after 29 1/2 years at age 55. During this whole day job scene, Mervin’s music career was blossoming. He played briefly for the “All Stars Band” and then rekindled his own band simply known as “The Merv George Four” and “The Merv George Band” in later years. He played with numerous musicians over his 60 plus years, playing for President Nixon and Vice-President Johnson for the dedication of the new Lady Bird Johnson Grove in 1969. He played in numerous places including San Diego, Reno, venues in Oregon, and on the San Francisco Bay Fleet. Locally, he played for numerous wedding receptions sometimes more than once for the same person, retirements, New Years, Christmas, private parties even all-nighters in Alderpoint. Local venues also included the Hoopa Neighborhood Facilities, Rodeo Grounds, Flynn’s Inn, the Branding Iron, the Keg, Fat Albert’s, The Den, Del Grande’s, and all of the local casinos among many others. He was a member of the Local Musician’s Union for the 60 years plus of his career.
While he managed these two careers, a third career was left to him in 1982 by the previous Hupa Tribal Ceremonial Leader. He faithfully, diligently, resourcefully, and unfailingly performed his sacred duties to participate in and carry out the White Deerskin, Jump, Brush, and Flower Dances. He was a powerful ceremonial singer who also gave prayer, gave Congressional and court testimony in the protection of resources and the young people, repaired and created regalia, gave talks, interviews, encouraged sobriety at the Dances, and helped curate museum collections including a very popular one on the fourth floor of the Smithsonian American Indian Museum in Washington D.C., which continues to this day 12 years past its original closing date.
Mervin also encouraged young people to participate in sports as a form of wellness and building self-esteem. He often donated time, equipment, money and uniforms. He began his coaching career in 1975 at Lafayette Elementary with Softball. He coached various teams of T-Ball, Softball, Track, and Cross County over the years. He especially enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and interacting with the Six Rivers Running Club and Humboldt- Del Norte High School Track coaches.
Mervin was preceded in death by his parents Elmer and Winnie George, his mother-in-law Kathryn Jackson, fathers-in-law Frank A. Grant, Jr and Jimmie Jackson. His Aunt Edith Fogus, Uncles Ray Baldy, Milton Baldy and Newton Baldy. His great uncle Rudolph Socktish. His nephew George Grant and his brothers-in-law Francis Mott Sr., Frank Grant III, John Jackson, Leonard Jackson, Leroy Jackson, and Sister-in-law Leona Lente.
Mervin leaves behind his wife Laura Lee (Grant) George; two sisters: Rosalia (George) Mott, Reva (George) Grant with husband Wayne; three children, Jennifer George, Melodie George-Moore with husband Glenn, and Mervin L. George Jr.; Grandchildren Kayla Begay with husband Carl, Natalie Marie Scott with husband Lewis, Alanna Nulph, Chance E. Carpenter IV, Pateisha Alvarado with husband Talbert, Louis W. George, Deja George, Mervin L.George III, Evelyn George, Winnifred Carpenter, Edward G. Carpenter, Trinity Moore, Cecilia Moore, Donald F. Moore; Great Grandchildren Gigi Alvarado, Bennett Moore, Ulyis George; Niece June Reckord; Brothers-in-law Zane Grant with wife Nita, James “Sonny” Jackson III with wife Melody, Dennis Puzz with wife Diane, Paul Puzz, Lincoln Jackson with wife Janet; Sisters-in- law Carole Grant, Lillian Hostler, Laura Ferris, Lila Gerstner with husband Jay; Firetender of 32 years John E. Robbins Jr. and Guitarist of 35+ years Tom Workman; Cousins Andy Andreoli with wife Tammy, Steve Baldy with wife Lois Risling, Rodney Robbins with wife Verla, Ronnie Robbins, Bautisto Pacheco, and the many cousins of the George, Baldy, and other families that make up his Ceremonial Dance Family.
Mervin Sr. was interred in a small ceremony at the family cemetery at Ch’eindiq’ot-ding near Pine Creek Road on September 1, 2018 with casket bearers Mervin George Jr, Glenn Moore, Chance Carpenter IV, Louis George, Mervin George III, Ed Carpenter, Lewis Scott, Talbert Alvarado, Robert Masten, Robert Buckman, Fillmore Harvey, and Nolan Colegrove. A larger Celebration of Life is being planned for Merv’s birthday Sunday October 21, 2018 at 1p.m. at The Bear River Casino’s Event Center. The family wishes to thank all the musicians who played with Merv over the many years; the Hoopa Tribal Chairman Ryan Jackson; staff at Hoopa Ambulance; Dr. Eva Smith; the Emergency Room Staff at Mad River; the ICU nurses, doctors and staff at Mercy Medical Center in Redding; Adam Robertson and Plant Management; all those who dug his grave by hand; and the tremendous outpouring of love and support from friends and family. As the prayer goes, “Go in a good way. Don’t look back and don’t worry…we will be all right here together in this world.”