George Pepper

Obituary of George Pepper

GEORGE WILLIAM TEALE PEPPER - November 26th, 1941 to November 24th, 2023


When a man’s stories are remembered, then he is immortal. Big Fish, Daniel Wallace.


A man who was larger than life. That’s how most folks would describe my grandfather. With salt and pepper hair and kind eyes, he could tell a tale so strange and wondrous it would have to be seen to be believed. But I’d believe him anyway. I’d believe every story about stealing Christmas trees, racing cars, or in one particularly hilarious case, blowing up an outhouse (it was thankfully not as gross as it sounds, my grandfather would want you to know that). He’d often tell me these stories on long car drives, where I’d sit in the backseat, swinging my feet back and forth and hanging onto every word.


When people would ask me about my grandpa, I used to ask if they’d ever seen the film Big Fish, because that was as close as I could get to a descriptor of him. A kind man who sought to experience all the world had to offer. Like Edward Bloom, my grandfather could weave a tale, blending fiction and reality until they were so tangled you weren’t sure where one started and the other ended. It never mattered to me, knowing the truth, mostly because even now, I’m fairly certain that most of the stories were true (just with a little magic sprinkled in). Truth and magic, that’s what make the best stories, I think.


His love for my grandmother was just as true and magical. They met many times throughout their lives, starting when she was three and he was seven, when she stole his bag of marbles. Fate had strange plans for them, because over the years, there were so many near misses, so many moments where they lived down the street from one another but never saw each other, or where their loved ones lived in the same house, or had mutual friends.


It wasn’t until they were in their forties that they truly met each other in a chance encounter. Standing on a golf course, the sun beating down on them, an immediate peace came over them, a sense of safety they never realized they were looking for. Later that day, he’d save my grandmother from a rogue golfball, caught it in the palm of his hand and only smiled. They’d be inseparable for the rest of his life.


He’d tell her every day, multiple times a day, how he loved her.

“You know I love you, don’t you, darling?”

“I know, Teale. I love you, too.”

“Oh, good.”


He’d sound so pleased every time she’d tell him she loved him, like he couldn’t believe it to be true.


Born to a nurse in 1941, and losing his father just two years later, my grandpa never knew his father. Everything my grandfather did was inspired by him. He raced cars because his father raced motorcycles. He loved airplanes because his father piloted one. He’d spend hours building models, and hanging them from the ceiling in the basement so they’d hover above our heads.


Despite being capable of having everything, my grandpa wanted very little. He was content with his family, his animals, and eating more English muffins with strawberry jam and hardboiled eggs than probably healthy. I wish I’d recorded those moments. We’d peek at him, savoring each bite like a little kid eating candy. When people have spoken to us about him, whether offering condolences or stories, the first thing they say is how charming and kind he was. How deeply missed he will be. I think that’s the price we pay for a love so deep and constant.


Throughout his life, he dodged death more times than any of us could count. Car accidents, plane crashes, having half his house blown up in the Second World War, you name it, he dodged it. We often joked that his guardian angel must be very tired from having to work double shifts all the time. He would say that that was his daddy looking out for him. If that’s true (which we’d like to think it is), it’s likely his mom and dad came to get him on the morning of Friday, November 24th, just two days shy of his 82nd birthday. He passed peacefully, still asleep, no doubt dreaming of his next adventure. He left behind his wife, Dianne, and five children: Debra, Christopher, Julie, Andrew, and Angela, and many grandchildren. Predeceased by his mother (Betty) and father (George Sr.) and his daughter, (Kimmy).


We miss you more than words.

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