A soleman, sometime humorous and heartfelt tribute to longtime teacher and advisor George Willis Sunbury took place during a funeral held for him Thursday at Central High School.
Administration, students, fellow teachers and staff filled the gymnasium, paying tribute to a colleague, teacher, friend and family member.
Division Superintendent Charles Berkley poignantly noted that Sunbury’s influence would be seen for decades beyond the nearly 50 years he taught at the school and worked for Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), where next month he would have received a nationally recognized award from the organization. Sunbury, 70, died in a house fire Feb. 23.
Words don’t seem to be adequate to describe the impact that Sunbury had on his students, fellow teachers and administration.
George was known, according to his uncle, Bob Sunbury, for being more excited about his students’ progress both academically and athletically than his own accomplishments.
Colleagues and friends told stories about George and his often questionable cooking habits, often taking recipes he learned from his hometown of Biglerville, Pennsylvania; his often impeccable fortune in avoiding vehicle damage after accidentally hitting deer, and his enthusiasm for life, his career and his home. He became a fixture, as one speaker put it, as a “Lunenburger.”
Stories of George elicited laughter and tears. Most poignantly, speakers relayed the message, that we at The Dispatch will take to heart, for George to be remembered and to comfort those who love and miss him.
“His life, his laughter, his music, his everything brings us comfort,” The Rev. Thomas Collins said. “When we walk outside this building and come back in tomorrow, and George isn’t here to greet us … we can comfort one another.”
“Still George gives us laughter, gives us hope, gives us love,” Collins said. “That’s why we’re here. Not to be comfortable, but so that we can comfort others. I hope for you that you will do as most of us will, and continue to tell the stories of George.”