George H. Saba

VOORHEESVILLE — George H. Saba — devoted husband of 67 years, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather — died peacefully on Wednesday, Aug. 30. He was 91 years old.

“George was born in Johnson City, New York in the early years of the Great Depression,” his family wrote in a tribute. “The son of Syrian immigrants Habib and Jenny, he was industrious even as a young boy. He developed an early love of music and learned to play the tuba in grade school.

“In early 1952, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and served as a flight engineer and crew chief in Korea. He was deployed on the USS Gordon and was assigned to the 18th fighter bomber wing where he primarily worked on C47s and B25s.

“He was a proud veteran who never tired of aviation and military history, which were his favorite literary and documentary genres. His love of aeronautics never waned; he often flew in his dreams.

“George met Toddeen “Tina” Kishpaugh in November 1955 when he and his brother, Eddie, crashed their sister Ruthie’s bridal shower. As Tina was leaving, everyone insisted that George drive her safely home in the snow.

“After several months of dating, his father sensed that she was the one for his son and took him to buy an engagement ring. George and Tina married on April 21, 1956. Within a few years, they had two sons.

“As a young man, George worked as a gourmet butcher and developed a broad palette, from pickled eggs to kibbe. He loved the Syrian food of his childhood and taught his sons and his granddaughters to prepare it as his parents had. He was especially fond of halupki/malfouf, sfiha, warak dawala, and salads dressed in lemon.

“George joined New York Telephone and worked there for 32 years. Once retired, he never looked back.

“He spent many years camping in Onchiota with his young sons and eventually designed and built two family homes on Rainbow Lake in the Adirondacks. He enjoyed boating and snowmobiling in the mountains and could often be found walking along the railroad bed, greeting neighbors.

“He and Tina spent several months each year traveling the United States in their RV, visiting friends and national parks. They were particularly fond of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the hot air balloon festival held there each fall.

“George dabbled in woodcraft and carving and had a habit of gifting personalized walking sticks to loved ones. He was an avid fan of strategy games and loved to socialize with family and friends over cards, dominos, cribbage, or chess.

“George loved to make people laugh and never missed an opportunity to tell a joke. He was the entertainment at holiday dinners and a beloved guest at parties.

“George was a natural tinkerer and talented engineer with a penchant for home projects. He was rarely idle. He was a helpful neighbor who enjoyed giving back to the community. As a frequent O positive blood donor, he saved many lives. He also volunteered as the AARP driving course instructor for many years, teaching with his signature humor.”

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George H. Saba is survived by his loving wife, Toddeen; his sons, Jeffery and Joseph; his granddaughters, Kaitlin, Alix, Kelsey, and Cade; and his great-granddaughters, Hayden and Harper.

 

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