Cover photo for George William  Gary, Jr.'s Obituary
George William  Gary, Jr. Profile Photo
1936 George 2022

George William Gary, Jr.

August 10, 1936 — January 6, 2022

George William Gary, Jr., age 85, of Chapel Hill, NC went on to bigger and better projects on January 6, 2022.

Bill, as all knew him, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on August 10, 1936. He lived in Decatur from age 5 until college. Bill attended the Winnona Park (Elementary) School in Decatur, GA and graduated from Decatur High School. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mercer University in Macon, Georgia and joined the Navy in 1956 at age 19. He was in the Airforce Reserve at Dobbins AFB in Marietta for 3 years.

Bill would go on to spend almost 5 years in the Navy. He was destined to become a leader as he was put in charge of a group of 7 new recruits from the recruiting station in Atlanta to go by train to the U.S. Naval Training Center Boot Camp at Great Lakes, IL (1956). He went through the U.S. Naval Hospital Corps School and was transferred from snow bound Great Lakes to the Naval Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX as a Navy Corpsman (1957). What a change from snow to swimming pools. Bill then transferred to Cherry Point, NC in 1958 as a Hospital Corpsman in the Virology Division, to Bethesda, MD to train at the Blood Bank and Clinical Laboratory Technology (1958-1959) and a final transfer to the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, MD (1959 -1961) where he received an honorable discharge of active duty and transferred to the Naval Reserve. While he never served on a ship, all this training prepared him for a laboratory job with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.

Bill left the Navy in March 1961 and joined CDC in Atlanta in May 1961. He was a Public Health Laboratory Technologist in the Enterovirus Unit and did some of the early polio work (1961). He attended evening school at Georgia State University and earned a BS degree in 1969. He became a Microbiologist in the Viropathology Laboratory and was in charge of the Maximum Security Laboratory (1970). In 1973 CDC supported him for a career development assignment at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he earned a Masters and Doctor of Public Health Degrees (1973-1975). In 1975 he worked as a Supervisory Public Health Analyst in the Study on the Efficacy of Nosocomial Infection Control (SENIC) Project.

Bill was transferred to Phoenix, AZ to become Chief, Gastroenteritis Laboratory Branch (81-83). When CDC closed the field station he returned to Atlanta as Chief, Viral Gastroenteritis Laboratory (1983) and the Parvovirus Laboratory (1987). In 1991 he became Deputy Chief of the Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch and retired in 1994.

The first time he retired, in 1994, Bill learned how to fly an airplane at the Gwinnett County Airport where he succeeded in flying solo. He also did volunteer work for the Tucker First Baptist Church. He temporarily worked for the EPA Senior Environmental program in Athens, GA (1977) as an Analytical Chemist. Retirement wasn’t enough as he was a go getter and returned to CDC for 3 years under the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education program. Bill worked in the scientific facilities on a master plan helping with problems associated with a severe lack of space for scientific operations. He worked with engineers, architects, managers and laboratorians on several renovation projects. Bill retired again from CDC in 2001 and moved to Western North Carolina. Bill had 38 years of loyal service to the U.S. Government.

Bill was a member of the American Society for Microbiology, Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society of North America and the National Registry of Microbiologists, Member, Certification Board, National Registry of Microbiologists, and American Academy of Microbiology. He was Board Certified, Clinical Laboratory Director, American Board of Bioanalysis and a Certified, Clinical Laboratory Director, Georgia Department of Human Resources. Bill was listed as an author on 18 abstracts and 77 scientific publications. He was nominated for the U.S. Health and Human Services Departmental Management Award and was heavily involved in health and safety and environmental committees at CDC.

When he retired again in 2001 he moved to Clyde, North Carolina near the Smokey Mountains. He immediately signed up for volunteer programs of Meals on Wheels (15 years) and the local elementary school gardening program for first and second grades (7 years) which is still functioning today. He had 2 1/3 acres and grew Christmas trees, grapes, apples, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and a yard full of trees and flowers. His 20 years in retirement were well spent.

In 2016 he decided to move to Chapel Hill, NC where CDC had supported him for his doctorate while at CDC and to be near his son, Lee, who followed in his footsteps with a PhD from UF.

Bill loved his family. He was predeceased by his son, Scott Gary. His survivors include his wife, Barbara Gary, his son, Dr. Lee Gary, and his brother, Dr. Gilmer Allen Gary, in Huntsville, AL. He enjoyed bluegrass music, camping, volunteering, travel, gardening, flying an airplane and talking with people and building things.

On line condolences can be made through the website of A.S. Turner Funeral Home and Crematory, Decatur, GA, with visitation Sunday, January 9, 6-7 pm and burial Monday, January 10, at 1:00 pm at the Decatur Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Bill asked that donations be made to the UNC Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology Gift Trust, Campus Box 7236, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7236.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of George William Gary, Jr., please visit our flower store.

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Sunday, January 9, 2022

6:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

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