George Vineyard 1961-2005: Farewell Dear Friend

Posted: March 7, 2005 in Uncategorized

It is believed that our dear friend George Vineyard passed away March 2.

This is a devastating loss for the Farros family.  George is my closest confidant and my wife’s best friend.  He is the person I chose to be godfather to my daughter.

Words cannot adequately express our grief.

George was involved in a boating accident on Lake Tanganyika, the longest — and second deepest — lake in the world, located in Tanzania, East Africa.

The very last words he wrote, the day before he went missing:

     "It’s also my birthday today, March 1st, and I’m now 44 years old spending it in the middle of Africa."

He was there to build an airstrip on Mande Karenga Island near the village of Kipili.  This was the first leg of an ambitious project to create an exclusive resort catering to European and Asian elite that George was being commissioned to direct.

What an adventure!  We talked for hours upon hours upon hours:  "Yeah, I’d be there in a second if I could."

All talk from me.  George actually did it… was actually making it happen.

His progress wasn’t a surprise to me, though.  I had the unique experience of working side-by-side — watching him perform — at for many years.

(Note to all ex-IPRT’ers:  Yes, I’m the one responsible for "unleashing" George into the workplace.  I told him that it was his specific responsibility — his solemn duty — to make sure everything worked so customers would love us… and that he was allowed to rattle any cages to get something fixed.  We all know how well he did that!  There’s no one more determined and tenacious than George when he gets an idea in his head.)

George’s real passion was Space, though.  With Lockheed Martin in the 80’s and 90’s, he was instrumental in ground-breaking projects such as the International Space Station and was even the senior manager for Lockheed’s commercial satellite program.  The stuff he did was truly out of this world.

What do you call a guy that knew Stephen Hawking-type stuff like the back of his hand?  One smart cookie.

In admiration and respect, the people of Kipili village are naming the airport The George Vineyard International Airstrip, a significant honor given the rarity of airports in the country.


Like the loss of any family member, we feel a gaping emptiness, especially when we think about the future… especially when we think about the small stuff:  Choosing the Sunday night movie.  Preparing dinner.  Running a quick errand.  Watching Elle rush to hug her Uncle George.

The memory I will carry to my deathbed is that George was one of the most supremely confident men in the entire world.  He used to joke, "hey, everyone is entitled to my opinion!"

They still haven’t found his body.  Just like George to still call his own shots.


P.S.  Thank goodness for blogs.  George chronicled the first few months of his African exploits.  Click here to read George’s fascinating, real-life modern adventure.


[March 11 Update:  They found George’s body today.  I’ve had trouble refering to him in the past tense all week, deep down hoping it really wasn’t true.  Now, well, there is no miracle.  Only deep sadness.  I miss my friend.]


  1. David says:

    My condolences to George Vineyards family.  I was an old friend from High School days who knew him well.  As I was looking up old friends for our High School Reunion next year, I found this article and felt an instant shockwave run through my body.  May the Lord give us the peace in knowing George is enjoying his new life to the fullest as he did while he was with us.  It\’s a huge loss for us, and a huge gain for Heaven. 
    My best to George\’s Family,
    David Toon

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  3. Gordon Yue says:

    I had the pleasure to work with George on the Space Station project in the early 90s. I first came across this site while searching for George to show him some pictures of the Space Station coming back from orbit. Sadly he had already pass on. But, just remember George’s hardware still circles the earth every 90 minutes each day and every day. I don’t know exactly what brought me back to this site..we miss you George

    Thanks Royal for leaving this tribute online for his friends to find.

    Gordon Yue

  4. Laura Vineyard says:

    I just looked up my brother, and found this on line. Thanks, Royal.

    Laura Vineyard