George Ellis Fortenberry
August 15, 1920 - December 2, 2018
George Fortenberry departed this life on Sunday, December 2, 2018. George was born August 15, 1920 in Childress, Texas. He graduated from Mineral Wells High School in 1939 and was inducted into military service in 1940. He served as a medical corpsman with the famous 112th Cavalry of Texas. His unit shipped to the South Pacific and served in various locations including New Caledonia, New Britain, Leyte, and New Guinea. The Cavalry learned to break Texas mustangs and the wild Australian horses of New Caledonia before the impracticality of riding horseback in the jungle was realized. After that, the men travelled by boat or on foot. Most of George’s time in the service was spent carrying the wounded away from the front lines.
After the war, George returned to Texas where he studied English and received both B.A. and M.A. degrees from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. George worked as a carpenter, woodworker, and teacher as a young man.
He joined the faculty of Arlington State College in 1955, received a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1967, and continued teaching in Arlington at the University of Texas at Arlington until his retirement.
George was a man of many interests. He loved American literature, especially poetry. He was a collector of art and taught himself to sculpt and build furniture. He was a man of strong political opinions, which he was happy to share. He had a quick sense of humor, beautiful blue eyes, and a great deal of charisma. In retirement, George travelled extensively with his wife and “love of his life,” Ruth Taylor Fortenberry.
George is survived by his daughter, Martha Odya, and an extended family that includes Greg, Gabriel, Rob, Dustin, and Nicole Odya, Caitlin and Nick Homenda, Star Huckleberry, Robby, Suzy, Laura, Kristen, and Caroline Marshall, and Feroz Talyarkhan.
There will be no public services.
Those who wish may make a memorial contribution to WildCare Inc. 198 N Hartstrait Rd. Bloomington, IN 47404. Notification of donation may be sent to Martha Odya, 1926 S. Oakdale Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403.
"George and Ruth were very dear friends of my parents, Kay and Steve Turner, for decades in Arlington, TX. George and my father taught English together at UTA and enjoyed many fine times through the years at ""Friday Club"" get-togethers, parties and social gatherings. More than anything, however, both George and my dad were brilliant teachers, writers and scholars in their respective fields of literature. Students loved them and they enjoyed the camaraderie of an academic department filled with characters and good friends. After my father died, George delivered a moving and fitting eulogy to my father at his memorial service. Ruth and George remained close friends of my mother all through the many years, and included her in countless dinners, outings and holiday gatherings. When Ruth passed away, George and his little dog continued to visit my mother during walks from his house to hers. We all loved George and he will be truly missed. I called him regularly after he moved to Indiana as we both enjoyed a good political rant,, bad jokes and conversational walks down memory lane. With his infectious laugh, sharp wit, fierce intellect, and gentle, generous spirit, he was a renaissance man who I will never forget. Rest in peace with your Babe, dear George. You will always have a special place in my heart. Brenda"
It was my first year teaching journalism at UTA. I walked into an elevator and a lone man was standing inside. The door closed. I was standing next to him and he said, "You're Roy Hamric." I was startled. "I was a friend of your father's," he said. "We went to high school together." That started what was to be a strong, rewarding friendship and a link to my past and the father I only knew fleetingly through one visit shortly after he came home from World War II and later when I was a man and returned home from Vietnam and drove to Mineral Wells two times to see him. George told me what my father was like as a young man. I was grateful. We became close friends with a special bond. George didn't talk much about World War II. The thing that came through most was his love for the horses that were a central part of his cavalry experience. He still missed some of the horses and talked about them with deep affection. George and I made many drives together to Mineral Wells retracing George's old neighborhood, exploring the changing town, eating catfish lunches at one of his favorite restaurants, driving slowly down the road running beside the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake. He pointed out the drugstore where he worked in the soda fountain while in high schooI. I looked forward to our regular walks together in one of the large Arlington parks, and the parties and lunches he and Ruth threw in their beautiful home. I relished walking into George's study and thumbing through his wall of well-worn books. I savored his quick smile and his laugh, usually filled with a trace of glee and irony. He was a sweet, wise man. Vaya con dios, amigo.
Tom and I were sorry to hear of George's passing. He taught a wonderful course on Mark Twain that I took while pursuing hours to get into the MA program at UTA. My husband, Tom Ryan, taught English at UTA for 41 years and thoroughly enjoyed being colleagues and friends with George, as did I during my time as a lecturer. We shared George's political views and appreciated his wonderful sense of humor. For many years, George was also our neighbor, and we enjoyed talking to him on his many walks either alone or with his friend Harriet. Ruth and George were a beautiful couple, and a fond memory was of having lunch with them several months before her passing. Rest in peace.