Birth: Wednesday, March 14, 1945 in Queens, NY
Residence: Valley Lee, formerly of Drayden
Death: Tuesday, February 01, 2022 at the age of 76
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One year, George Dowling and his friends had lined up for the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade when he heard a friendly voice call from one of the groups marching. The County Cork brigade was heading down the parade route, and, next thing you knew, George was marching with them.
"We went to see the parade, and George got pulled into the parade," recalled his sister-in-law Rachel Hendrickson.
The anecdote captured George perfectly. He was the guy who never knew a stranger, who always called to check on loved ones, who helped anyone who needed it. The guy who made any gathering better - whether it was one of New York's most famous events or a family holiday - just by being there.
"He was a friend to all - the lady who made the fried chicken at the convenience store, the guys at the gas station, the nurses in the hospital," Hendrickson said. "People knew him."
George Henry Dowling, born March 14, 1945, in Queens, died February 1 in Washington, DC, due to heart failure. He was surrounded by his two children and a granddaughter.
The son of Mary McMullan and Waldron Dowling, George was industrious from a young age.
"He worked in the boatyard as a kid. That's how I first met him," said Carolyn Dowling, another sister-in-law. "He was the handiest guy ever. He always had a rag in his pocket." "He worked until age 18 and then went into the Marine Corps," her husband, Jimmy Dowling, said.
When George returned home in his dress blues, the whole family gasped in awe.
"Everyone was so proud of him," Carolyn Dowling said. "George was a good example of how far you could go." He enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1963 and was honorably discharged in 1969.
George later managed restaurants in the Kennedy Center, Grand Central Station, Times Square and even ran his own cafe for a time. As a craftsman with Miller Druck for over twenty years, he specialized in granite, marble, and stonework. He was involved in the extensive renovations of Grand Central and the Statue of Liberty.
Not only did George excel professionally, but he also helped others succeed.
"He got me a job with Amtrak. He also got me a job delivering bread for a bread company. Those were all good jobs back in the day," Jimmy Dowling recalled. "He was a big thing to me. My father died when I was 12, and I had five younger brothers. George was like a father figure to me."
"He was never afraid to tell Jimmy he was doing something stupid," Carolyn mused. When the Dowlings opened a bar in Far Rockaway, George was among their regular visitors and would occasionally help out in the kitchen.
Most of all, George was devoted to his family. His granddaughter, Charlotte Huck, cherishes memories of their early-morning tradition during her visits to his Maryland farm.
"In the mornings, Papa and I would drive to the nearby gas station, where I would get a slushie, and he would get a black coffee. He knew how much I loved horses, so we would go out and get apples and carrots and feed some horses at a nearby farm," she said. "Going to get slushies is how I learned to drive. My grandfather let me drive his truck when I was 14, but I started driving tractors the second I could walk."
As a very young child, Charlotte took measures to ensure their routine never got off track.
"We would go and get coffee super early, and when I was little, I would wake up and sleep outside his door, so he never left me because I wanted to be with him," she said.
George enjoyed gardening and collecting old tractors and, putting his vast talents to work, kitted out his cars with seats for his dogs.
"He loved his dogs. The last two dogs he rescued were labrador retrievers," Hendrickson said. "He always said they rescued him."
Predeceased by his parents and seven siblings, Dowling is survived by his daughter, Lynn-Anne Huck, and her daughter Charlotte Greeley Huck of Atlanta, his son and daughter-in-law Frank and Annabella Dowling, and their children, Savannah Rose, Gina Pearl, and George Vedder of London, and his five siblings. Future gatherings to celebrate his life will be held in New York and Maryland.
Instead of flowers, the family has requested donations to the T.J. Martell Foundation in honor of his physician, Dr. Mitchell C. Benson of Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
A Celebration of Life Service is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 2022 at 1 PM for a casual lunch at the Second District Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad, 45245 Drayden Rd, Valley Lee, MD 20692.
The program for the celebration can be found online at https://so.md/gdowling