Norman and Joan George with their senior 14 year old dog Nellie. Photo by Michael Gordon
by Jennifer Tipton
Norman and Joan George are a dynamic Ventura senior couple, in fact, they are my neighbors. Not a day goes by that I don’t notice their car is in the driveway, and then it’s gone, and then it’s back, and then it’s gone …
Norman is 85 years young and Joan is 83. “Norm” (as Joan calls him) can’t get around as well as he used to, he needs the assist of a power chair for any distance, but that certainly doesn’t keep him down! He volunteers at Catholic Charities to feed the homeless, and has done so for the last 24 years. Joan belongs to a women’s retiree group, and between them they have been active with many other organizations.
Married for 35 years, this is the second marriage for both. They have 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren between them. “We put two families together with no problems”, says Norm. Together the blended family enjoyed activities such as camping and houseboating in the Delta.
The two met when they both worked for Shell Oil, Norman in the field and Joan in the office. Although they spoke on the phone often, Joan always thought he was still married and would have nothing to do with THAT! Then one day when Joan was coming out of the office, (the Shell offices were by Plaza Park at that time) and Norman was going in, Norman told a co-worker, “I’m going to ask her to join me for a cocktail”, and the co-worker responded, “take her out to dinner!”
“It’s been a great 35 years”, says Joan. They’ve lived several places such as Bakersfield and Sacramento but returned to Ventura in 1989 when Norman retired from Shell because according to Norm, “we wanted to see if the ocean was still there” and according to Joan, “I don’t think you can find a better place to live than Ventura -the weather, the beaches, the mountains – it’s just beautiful!”
When they first retired, the couple became active with the Elderhostel, a non-for-profit organization established in 1975 which offers travel and educational programs in the United States and around the world.
Joan reports their adventures included China, Italy, The Bahamas, France, London and The Panama Canal on Al Capone’s whiskey boat. Often staying in college dorms while traveling, the Elderhostel provides guides as well to accompany the senior adventure seekers. Norman tells me that one time, while in China, a Chinese guide asked him where he got his big tennis shoes, so he reached down and pulled off the tag that read, “made in China.”
Both Norman and Joan like to play games on the computer although she does more Facebook and internet stuff but he likes Solitaire and Mahjong, they even have a computer room with His and Her computers that are positioned side by side and the walls are lined with many years of family photos.
They’ve been known to play tricks on each other, he held a surprise 50th birthday party for her and she gave him a surprise 70th. Joan says, “it took me 20 years to get even!”
Norman George will be 86 on July 20.