2014-12-18 / Obituaries

George Henry Wessels

In loving memory of George Henry Wessels, who passed away on Dec. 3, 2014 at the age of 92. George was at home looking at the view of the mountains in Mariposa and peacefully slipped away to a deep sleep.

George was born on Aug. 15, 1922 in Loma Linda (San Bernardino County). His parents, Pete and Flora Wessels, moved to Chowchilla and operated a chicken ranch where George spent most of his childhood, and the family later moved into town.

In high school, George was active in the drama club, and played the trombone in the marching band. During World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended the Paramount Motion Picture School in New York before being deployed to Australia and the Philippines to serve as a combat photographer under General Douglas MacArthur. Along the way, taking several ships and a few planes, George snapped the first published photographs of Shangri-La. He sent the photographs to Life Magazine for publication.

George lit up the lives in the Chowchilla community when he returned home from the war, opening a photography studio in his home and taking portraits of thousands of Chowchilla residents in his studio, photographing weddings, taking school pictures of their children and documenting community events. He also took photographs for the high school yearbook.

George’s skilled talents have filled photo frames and walls in many homes as well as our hearts. He was also commissioned by the CHP to photograph auto accidents for their reports.

He later opened a VW repair shop and serviced as many Volkswagens as he could fit on his street. George also loved flying his “knocker” airplane in the skies all over California. When he retired, he moved to Mariposa and again touched the community with lasting friendship.

During George’s life he had many adventures, but he said his best adventure was his family. He married Elsie Cordes in 1952 and together they raised seven children. The Wessels home was a full house but every member had a wonderful example of how to be a success in life and embrace family with love and honor through all of life’s ups and downs.

His family will celebrate in George’s life and memory for many years to come. This loving father, husband and friend lived a long enjoyable life. All family members will miss his hugs and his unique personality. The family would love to hear stories and memories of George from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17 at SFA Portuguese Hall, 800 South 3rd Street, Chowchilla, CA 93610 for a celebration of his life.

If you would like to send stories to celebrate how George touched your life, or to RSVP for the event (it’s not required but we would love to know if you plan to attend) the email address is wesselsrsvp@gmail.com, or mail to PO Box 2021 Mariposa CA 95338, or call (559) 580-1065.

George will be laid to rest in a private ceremony with full military honors at the National Veterans Cemetery in Santa Nella on Dec. 18.

George’s memory will live on for Elsie, his wife of 62 years, their children Earl Carol Jr.'s wife Donna (Earl passed away last year), Ellen Nicks (husband Morris), Gene Carol, Frances Thatcher (husband Donald), Karen Mann (husband Larry), John Wessels (wife Glori) and Patty McDowell (husband Roy).

George is also survived by 13 grandchildren, including Michael and David Cash, Julie Hieronymus (Gass) and Matthew Gass, Stephanie Mann, Earl Carol, III., Kevin and Josh McDowell, Jeremy and Phillip Wessels, Elizabeth, Isabell and Victoria Saner, and 11 great-grandchildren.

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