George Sterling Stearns, 88, of Billings, MT, died peacefully of natural causes at Morningstar Assisted Living, surrounded by his loving family on October 28, 2016. George was born in Omro, Wisconsin, on May 17, 1928, to parents Clayton Webster Stearns and Grace Elizabeth Dobbins Stearns.
As a young man in Omro, George was the youngest person in Wisconsin to become an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow. He excelled in academics and sports, accepting leadership roles as Captain or Co-Captain of basketball, football, and baseball teams. He enjoyed all the outdoor recreational sports and activities that Wisconsin offered. He won many awards for marksmanship and was an avid hunter. Other hobbies included photography and following the Green Bay Packers. His love and expertise of photography allowed George to have life-time press credentials.
As children, we grew up following our parents into duck blinds, waiting with their friends and dogs for first light, first flight. We learned about our lakes, rivers and streams by being outdoors year round. His lifelong interest in our national parks and monuments led the family to remote corners of the country.
George Sterling graduated from Omro High School and the University Of Wisconsin School Of Pharmacy receiving his diploma in 1950. During his early career as a Registered Pharmacist, George worked at Stearns Drug Store in Wisconsin before serving in the US Air Force during the Korean War. George was a First Lieutenant and Registered Pharmacist at Parks Air Force Base in Pleasanton, California, setting up the newly created hospital pharmacy. While in San Francisco, George met Frances Marie Wood of Bottineau North Dakota, his future wife of 53 years. After the Korean War, George attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, where the couple married at Stanford Memorial Chapel, June 12, 1954. George and Frances moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, built their dream home on the shores of Lake Winneconne, raised their family and were active in the community and Masonic Temple. George became a 32 degree Mason, following his father who was Worthy Grand Patron for the State of Wisconsin.
George managed Stearns Drug in Oshkosh and helped out at the family stores in Omro and Winneconne. They frequently traveled to Lake Metigoshe, North Dakota, for family gatherings and traveled yearly to Broken Bow, Nebraska, for the One Box Pheasant Hunt, where the couple met many astronauts and military leaders.
George was very proud of his profession as a Registered Pharmacist and his career as an Osco Drug Store Manager and Marketing Director for Osco Drug / Jewel Corporation. He challenged accepted standards by being the first to post prices for prescription drugs and challenged the practice of Sunday store closure in Arkansas. The family frequently moved due to George’s career. George and Fran settled in Sedona, Arizona, after retiring in 1991.
George was intellectually gifted and multitalented. Designing and building the family “California-style” mid century modern home on Lake Winneconne was a source of pride. George was a lifelong student, avid reader, and his level of intelligence was rivaled only by a very few. Spirited discussions among family members were common. Conversation and questions were encouraged as long as we had the information to back up our argument. His parents were active in their community serving in public office and Masonic organizations and George followed this tradition.
Fran and George traveled the world with friends and family. Adventure was their motivation, and their passports ranked among their most prized possessions. They believed in eco-tourism, which led the family on trips and adventures that many only dream about.
We will remember our father and grandfather with love, appreciation, and admiration. He demanded that his children and grandchildren be extremely motivated, be highly educated, excel, and achieve. Both our parents were exceedingly proud of our levels of education, the positions in our professions, and the lives we live and occupy.
Excuses were never part of their lives or vocabulary.
Cremation has taken place. A Masonic funeral will be held Saturday, November 26, at 1:00 P.M. at the Masonic Lodge, 1101 Broadwater Ave., Billings, Montana. The scattering of his ashes will be in Sedona, Arizona.
George was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Frances Marie Wood Stearns, and parents, Clayton and Grace Stearns.
George is survived by three daughters: Mary Beth Stearns, R.N.; Lucinda Stearns Butler, R.N. BSN, [Steven Butler M.D.], Billings,MT; Lisa Jo Stearns M.D.,[Sebastiano Gulizia], Scottsdale, AZ.; ten grandchildren: Erin Butler, P.A.[Dave Towers]; Sarah Butler, Esq. [Donny O’Day, Esq.]; Shannon Davis, M.Ed. [Christopher Davis]; Capt. Kevin Butler, U.S. Army [Kristy Butler]; Brian Powers, DPT [Denise Powers M.M.T.]; Megan Powers, LPN; Erin Colleen Powers; Julie Gulizia Burch, M.Ed. [JJ Burch]; Joseph Gulizia; and George Gulizia; six great-granddaughters; brother Clayton Webster Stearns, Jr., [ life partner Andrew Rankow, RPh.,], Fort Lauderdale, FL.; sister Cynthia Ann Stearns Nichols [ Frank Nichols, M.D.], Naples, FL.; and nieces and nephews.
We are very appreciative and thankful to Morningstar and their trained professional staff.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to:
Rimrock Opera Foundation
P.O. Box 114
Billings, MT 59103
UW-Madison School of Pharmacy - send to the ‘UW Foundation’ and in the memo line, please write ‘In Memory of George Stearns’ and mail to:
1848 University Ave.
Madison, WI 53726
Attn: Chris Natynski