George C. Berlow (1922-2012)

He was born on December 31, 1922 at 11:55 p.m. Had his mother been able to wait five more minutes, he would have been the first child born in the city of Boston in 1923. His middle name was “Copel”, the Yiddish word for spoon. No one in the family ever knew why his mother chose that name.

Young George contracted polio at the age of 13. He overheard the doctor advising his mother that he would never walk again and that he would probably have a short life due to health issues. Proving this doctor wrong was just the first of many such instances that showed his stubbornness and self-reliance.

Despite a limp, he was still a robust young man who traveled and dated many attractive women. Photos of the time bear witness to his confident exuberance.

A blind date was arranged in the summer of 1947. He met a young naval veteran named Charlotte Entin, who preferred to use her middle name — Gloria. It was an instant attraction. On their way to a visit to his brother in New York City in September of that year, they jumped off the train in Hartford, got married by a justice of the peace, and continued on with their vacation.

Strangely, they returned to their respective parents’ homes to live while her mother could be properly notified. A religious service took place on December 31, 1947.

They brought four children into the world: Julie Ann (February 19, 1949); Jane Carol (March 2, 1950); Valerie (February 13, 1955); and Hugh Bradley (June 25, 1962). Using veterans’ resources, they purchased a house in Randolph, Mass., a suburb of Boston.

The house had books in just about every room as well as antiques. They lived in an area that felt like a neighborhood and in a community with a good school system.

George worked at a wide variety of jobs, doing what it took to provide for his family. He bought and sold stamps, created and sold jewelry, and had a mail-order business in antiques. In the 1970’s, he displayed at various outdoor flea markets. It was a time well before the advent of antique malls.

His last regular job was for Peters and Co. Inc. As an estimator, he worked on bids to manufacture and install commercial kitchen equipment in schools, hospitals, and business. Nowadays, they probably have a computer program for that.

As the years progressed, the effects of the polio began to impact various aspects of his life. His hearing started to deteriorate, first in one ear and then the other. The limp became more pronounced and his overall skeletal frame seemed to become more fragile. Dreading the New England winters and fearing a fall on ice, he and Gloria moved to Ocala, Florida in 1986.

It was a strange new environment for them but one they settled into without ever losing the characteristics that made them who they were. For a number of years, they were volunteer docents at the Appleton Museum of Art and were lauded for their efforts. They maintained a small antique store within the Stokes Flea Market.

In 2001, George acquired a computer. Actually, he got a computer desk first and then a computer. Details and preparation were the key to anything. He spent long hours on the computer, conversing with family and friends, researching antiques and collectibles, and forwarding jokes that many of us had seen hundreds of times but were brand new to him.

Even with an environment of relatively peaceful weather, post-polio syndrome began to emerge and his health was becoming more fragile. Ever a devoted husband, he could not bear the thought that he would not be able to take care of his darling wife of 65 years.

A caved-in chest, caused by the post-polio syndrome, resulted in swallowing difficulties and a proclivity toward pneumonia. While in the Life Care Center of Ocala, in the same room as Gloria, he developed respiratory issues, was taken to Munroe Medical Center, and made the decision to be taken to Legacy House Hospice.

Gloria was taken to see him on Tuesday, October 16, 2012. He could not speak but a love so strong and profound as they shared did not need words. George C. Berlow passed away at 12:03 a.m. on Thursday October 18, 2012. He was two and a half months short of his 90th birthday.

He leaves a wife of 65 years, four children, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, nieces, nephews, and many people who knew and loved him.

For many years, people would refer to me as “Mr. Berlow” to which I would reply “As long as my Dad is still living, I’m just H.B.” Now, I am Mr. Berlow. I am his son.

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40 Comments

  1. Heather Salgado said,

    October 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Uncle Hugh..this is wonderful. Thank you so much

    Like

  2. October 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss. Your father will clearly always be with you, because even through the beard it’s obvious you carry on his good looks…

    Like

  3. October 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    :`( H.B. This is so informative and beautiful and sad. You had an amazing father to have overcome so much. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sure it was very difficult to sit down and do.My heart goes out to you and your family. -hugs-

    Like

  4. myrickeaton said,

    October 30, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    H. B.–what a shock! Beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Bonnie J.–

    Like

  5. October 30, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Beautiful tribute Iloved it something to treasure I appreciated you sharing your wonderful fatherwith us God Bless You and your family hipe you are well God Bless again and thanks enjoyed reading it very much.
    Karen M Arnold

    Like

  6. Joann Berlow Friedman said,

    October 31, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Absolutely wonderful tribute to my dear uncle, and so worthy of an amazing man. “Mr. Berlow”, I applaud you for being the best son a father could have.

    Like

    • H.B. Berlow said,

      November 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

      Few men can claim to have been called “Mr. Berlow” and I am honored to be one of them.

      Like

  7. Jane Gallison said,

    October 31, 2012 at 5:10 am

    This is a wonderful tribute to our Dad. It wasn’t until I became an “older” adult , I had some of his traits which I had previously bemoaned as a child. We siblings are all bound by those same traits. George was certainly a character who touched many people over the course of his 90 years.

    Like

  8. Sharyl Friebus said,

    October 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

    What a beautiful story full of love, commitment and strength! Brought me to tears.

    Like

    • leon rudman said,

      October 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      This is a wonderful eulogy for a unique person. George was always in a category by himself. I printed this and will always cherish it. I had two uncles who have gone to their final resting place; I wll always have fond memories.

      Leon Rudman—nephew

      Like

  9. Cathy said,

    November 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

    a beautiful tribute, H.B. tears. you are in my heart and thoughts.

    side note: you are the spitting image of your mother.

    Like

  10. Marshal Rudman said,

    November 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Marshal Rudman

    Nov 2, 2012

    I was reviewing my email this afternoon and decided to check my spam. What a surprise when I discovered this – the recap of Uncle George’s life brought back so many great memoroes. Where has the time gone?
    We will miss him!

    Marshal nephew

    Like

    • H.B. Berlow said,

      November 3, 2012 at 8:58 am

      The time has seemed to vanish into something called the Past. It’s harder to see but it’s still there.

      Like

  11. lawrenceez said,

    November 5, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Very powerful. So sorry to hear of your loss.

    Like

  12. RB Mayer said,

    November 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Well, Mr. Berlow, that was really a beautiful tribute. George sure had an interesting life and I wish I could have known him. But I feel like I already do, because I know you.
    I don’t think I ever knew your folks were married in Hartford.

    Like

  13. revcindylee said,

    November 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Beautiful H.B. May his memory be for a blessing and may the best of who your dad was and continues to be live on in you.

    Like

  14. November 15, 2012 at 6:00 am

    The story of George is as a story of a hero ,,but i hate the part when he contracted polio at 13.
    Rest in peace George!!

    Like

    • H.B. Berlow said,

      November 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      Part of who we are, part of who we are to become, is often determined by the bad events in our lives. Those that are overcome by them become one kind of person. I think my Dad became stronger for it and that’s who he became. I try to remind myself of that in these dark days ahead and hope that I have inherited some of his strength.

      Like

      • Valerie Del Signore said,

        November 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        So true and totally agree brother!

        Like

  15. January 23, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    I have done a lot of work on Berlow geneology. Do you know who George’s father was? Do you have any documentation? I have a lot of data entered into the Family Tree software program.

    Like

    • Joann Berlow Friedman said,

      January 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      You recently responded to Hugh Berlow with reference to his Dad, George Berlow’s death and questions pertaining to him for your Family Tree. A few years ago, I was in contact with you and provided you with a lot of info relative to the Berlows (from the Boston area). I am Joann (Berlow) Friedman, married to Frank Friedman. My father was Iran Berlow (deceased 2005) and George’s older brother. My Dad was a Television Producer & Director at WBZ-TV, Boston for many years and then became a Professor at Boston University teaching TV Production & Direction. He was also a Shakespearean actor and trained as an artist and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. George & Iran also had an older sister, Rosalyn (Berlow) Rudman who died many years ago. Their father was Joseph Berlow (who passed away in approx. 1944 or 1945, married to Harriet (Cohen) Berlow. Also they had an uncle, Myron Berlow who was a gift store owner in Winchester, MA. I don’t know much about him. Please let me know if you need further info.

      Like

  16. October 16, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    […] light a candle in his honor. It feels like I should do something more, say something…more. I eulogized him on this site shortly after his passing. Did I say […]

    Like

  17. jazzlikewoah said,

    February 20, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I am speechless. What did I do to deserve such an amazing great grandfather ? He taught me how to play chess, he evenlet me win

    Like

    • H.B. Berlow said,

      February 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      He didn’t let you win, dear. He played against you enough to where you could learn how to win. Same thing happened to me forty years ago. (Next time I see you, you owe me a game.)

      Like

  18. Mary said,

    February 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I just read your beautiful tribute to your Mom, Gloria. She says, “I love you and I got to read my whole life”.

    Like

    • H.B. Berlow said,

      February 20, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      She hasn’t read her whole life yet because she’s got a lot more living to do. The lady is amazing and I’m proud to call her “Ma.”

      Like

  19. mike ellis said,

    September 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Today I picked up a box of what was mostly trinkets at a local thrift store. The box was old and the contents looked old. Inside the box was the social security card for George C. Berlow along with a few other items with his name and the name of Gloria. Out of curiosity I went online to see what I could find out about Mr Berlow. What I found was this beautiful tribute written by his son. I also noticed that Mr Berlow died on my birthdate of October 18. I feel it is some sort of serendipity that I was the one to retrieve the box that led me to the tribute of Mr. Berlow.

    Like

    • Joann Friedman said,

      September 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      You should write a book entitled “Serendipity”! Wow, and this guy was born on the same date as you Dad! Knocks my socks off!

      Love Joann

      Like


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