George Washington Mordecai, Jr., 93, of 310 S. Mosely Street (recently of 222 Hillcrest Rd. in Raleigh), died Sunday, May 12, 2013 in Vidant Chowan Hospital.
Mr. Mordecai was born in Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC, and was the son of the late George Washington Mordecai Sr. and Mary Day Faison Mordecai. His birth was followed by siblings, Sam, Frank and sister, Ellen. The family lived on a farm located between East Whitaker Mill Rd. and the railroad running along Capital Blvd. and enjoyed many years of happiness with many animals there before losing their house to fire and then the death of George Sr. in 1940. An Eagle Scout, graduate of Broughton High School, George began to attend State College, while also taking flying lessons, first in a Piper J-5 or J-3, then in biplanes, to learn more agile flying skills. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, George and his brother, Sam joined the Naval Air Force, where he eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant. George was stationed in Memphis, then Corpus Christi, and Hawaii, but as he put it, made the mistake of also including “instruction” when selecting his options for duties. He said to himself, “this is going to be dull,” but in the end, he really enjoyed it and had a natural gift for teaching. After the war ended, George finished at State College as a Mechanical Engineer and went to work for CP&L.
In 1951 George started flying again, when he joined his brother, Frank Mordecai in Nicaragua, where in the year before, Frank and his friend Dick Pfeiffer of Washington, NC, had started farming, just as cotton prices skyrocketed. He lived a life of adventure in Nicaragua, crop dusting for other farms and farming Finca San Ramon on the south side of Lake Managua. In August of 1956, George married Anne Lee Woodward of Richmond, VA. They had a son, George the III who was born in Managua in 1960. George experienced his share of heartbreaks and successes. He separated from Anne in 1962, and remarried Nancy Wood, of Edenton in 1966, and had another son, Julien in 1968. Nicaragua was a developing economy and a tropical paradise to be shared with many cousins and family visiting the country. However, on Christmas Eve of 1972 an earthquake hit Nicaragua which destroyed the family home in Managua and subsequently killed over 10,000 people, as the combination of ruptured gas and water mains created an unstoppable inferno. In 1974, he started farming his own property, San Martin, including cotton, sorghum and cattle with great results. However, the lies of the communist and manipulation of the poor, along with financial and military support from Russia, East Germany and Cuba, led to the Sandanista takeover of a freely elected government. This resulted in property confiscation from many of the existing land and business owners in the country for the purposes of “wealth redistribution” or “reforma Agraria,” as it was defined by the new regime. Mr. Mordecai’s foreman was shot on site at San Martin and George sent, Julien and Nancy home to North Carolina, while he attempted to sort things out.
Fortunately, George had hedged his bets and from about 1967 on, he had started managing Hayes Barton Pool in the summers, as he purchased it from his siblings, who had inherited the business from their father. George was loved and depended on for his good listening and sage advice by many families, pool goers and Mordecai cousins that spent their summers at one of the largest old-school pools anywhere in North Carolina. In 1987, he sold the pool and at 68 years old, started working construction and managing newly acquired apartments. He went on to work with the greens crew at Prestonwood Country Club, which he continued until weeks before his 90th birthday. If you knew George well, you probably worked with him…He epitomized the work ethic of the depression generation and the entrepreneurial spirit of the post war boom. His favorite authors were Rudyard Kipling and Jack London. Mr. Mordecai was a longtime member of Christ Episcopal Church and more recently of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and also enjoyed membership in the Terpsichorean Club and the Kappa Alpha Order of State College, all in Raleigh. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers, Samuel Fox Mordecai and Frank Faison Mordecai, and by his sister, Ellen Mordecai Welles.
Surviving are his wife of over 46 years, Anne Langhorne “Nancy” Wood Mordecai; and two sons, George Washington Mordecai, III and wife Mary of Swepsonville and Julien Wood Mordecai and wife Patricia of Edenton. Also surviving are Nancy’s children, Edward Carlisle Carson, Jr. of Raleigh, Anne Carson Hunt and husband Peter of London, England, and James Wood Carson and wife Kimberly of Portland, OR. Together George and Nancy shared 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. in Christ Episcopal Church, 120 East Edenton Street, Raleigh, by the Rev. Nancy J. Allison. Burial will follow in historic Oakwood Cemetery. Friends may join the family in the parish hall immediately following the church service and prior to the burial.
Miller Funeral Home & Crematory, 735 Virginia Road, Edenton, is assisting the family with arrangements.