Soft-spoken coach loved to keep busy

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

He was a quiet man who carried himself with consistency and unflinching stability. He was happiest when he was busy, family members said.

Rufus George Jr. worked a majority of his life as a coach and teacher, spending 23 years at Gattis Junior High School, his wife Barbara George of Portales said.

He died June 29 at age 67.

Few people knew her husband would often take members of his team shopping, wanting to make sure they had the required supplies to run track, she said.

“He’d take his team to eat pizza, and he would buy them shoes and socks — he didn’t want any recognition for himself,” she said.

During his teaching career, he also served as a driver’s education teacher in Clovis, she said. He eventually started driving schools that he ran in Clovis and Portales, she said.

He was unable to sit still in retirement, she said. He stayed busy by running his driving school, being active in his church, helping friends and neighbors fix things, and starting a vending business for fairs. He even eventually returned to education, his wife said.

“He was just so good. He always just fixed everything — he was up on the roof and down in the yard, that’s just the way he was,” she said.

Barbara George, coordinator of the Portales Maypole celebration, said her husband was a patient man who offered endless support.

“He was an excellent husband. He sat through 25 Maypoles and never complained, never said, ‘I’ve seen five of those or 10 or 15, and I’m not going again.’

“He was always there to support me. He was an encourager of everyone. He was always positive and wanted everyone to do their best,” she said.

A father of two, he adored his family and doted on his five grandchildren, she said.

Matt Christensen taught with George at Gattis for several years.

“He was one of those people that don’t really say a lot, but when they do speak it’s pretty profound. He wasn’t into trivial conversation,” he said.

George was “solid as a rock,” Christensen said. His mood never changed, he said.

“If you asked for his opinion, which he didn’t like to give, he was pretty straightforward. He was like a moral compass.

“He was just old school — pretty cut and dry. I think that’s what people appreciated about him.”

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