We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Escondido Location
Georgine was born in Indiana on June 20th, 1933. Her family home was in Dyer. Georgine had two brothers, Ronald and Howard, and a sister Dolores. Mother Margaret and Daddy George completed the family. At a young age of about 7, Georgine began wearing glasses, which she left behind as soon as she discovered contacts. She was always a redhead in sprit, even before she started the hair coloring. Unfortunately in 1944 her father passed away due to a medical error as he received treatment in the local hospital. Her mother did an amazing job raising an educated and healthy family, although it was difficult as a widow. She never remarried. Georgine donned the nickname George and that is how she is known to many friends and loved ones.
As a young adult George worked and enjoyed life in the Chicago area. Having many friends and making good money, she began expanding her horizons and traveling the states. When one of her best friends joined the trip, New York City adventures were a favorite! When she tired of the cold Midwest winters, George moved from Indiana to Texas to be near her sister Dolores. How many years she lived there is unknown but when the time was right she moved to Santa Monica, California. She and a friend found an apartment across the street from the Pacific Ocean, with beautiful views from their patio. Sand, water and palm trees!
In time she met a military man and fell in love. Mr. and Mrs. Ivor (Tommy) Thomas were wed in 1969. Tommy served 20 years and retired in 1971. Moving farther south but still in California they set up a home first in Mira Mesa and later Oceanside. Then Valley Center caught their attention, a rural community that many notable figures called home (vchistory.com for those interested). Tommy and George found a simple place on a hillside with almost four acres, just across the road from Bates Nut Farm.
There wasn’t much “in town” on the main street, Valley Center Road, but there was an old restaurant that began a new life in 1981 when it became Fat Ivor’s Rib Rack. It wasn’t easy at first, but Tommy loved to cook and George did the books. And before too long, on any given day for over 20 years you could walk in and find good food, a welcoming bar, laughter and locals. Affectionately known by many as Fat’s, it was the place to be; to unwind after a long day, to meet with friends, or just show up and hang out, maybe even enjoy all you can eat beef ribs (and steak fries and slaw)! Honorable mention is a delicious George crafted appetizer, sautéed mushrooms. And to finish it off, Tommy’s cherry cheesecake, what a treat!
Life was good. The restaurant had a wonderful staff, more like family than just employees with most staying on many years. Tommy and George were hands on owners and always took the time to say hello and share a story with their customers, soon to be friends. A lot of fun was had! Tommy became a dedicated Optimist, (motto: Friend of Youth), and Fat’s sponsored many kids sports teams, their team plaques hanging on the walls. Oh how the kids loved to come in and show off their team photo! A big focus for Tommy and others was adding a sewer to Valley Center, which eventually started on Woods Valley Road in 2005. George was active in the Women’s Club, running the local pageant several times, and one year was decreed Honorary Mayor. And then the time they rode an old farm truck in the Western Day’s Parade! And that is just a glimpse of their involvement in the Valley Center and San Diego county communities.
Over the years, they remodeled their home; adding a large Great Room, a spacious deck and Jacuzzi, a granny flat, a shed, fruit trees, rose bushes that spread out alongside the long driveway, cleared the land of weeds and added several grass lawns, the list goes on. It was also home to many dogs and cats, some abandoned and found on the side of the road. Mother came to stay in the granny flat, and Mom Thomas had a room in the main house.
And yet Tommy and George found themselves on many trips. Onward to Alaska, Canada, Washington DC, Hawaii, Arizona, throughout California, on many cruises and many road trips in their RV. Tommy developed diabetes, eventually needing dialysis weekly, then nightly. George would hook him up on a portable device and the trips continued!
But then in 2000, Mom Thomas passed away, then Mother in 2001. Tommy in 2002, on Christmas Day no less, always a favorite holiday for George. Just two months later the entire restaurant burned down in 2003.
While sorting thru the ashes, staff and locals mourned along with George. And then a sign was raised, “if you rebuild, we will come back”. So that’s what George did, taking on partners in ownership to do so. As the restaurant was starting fresh, George wanted just a few changes made. The new place would be the same ‘footprint’ and design, but added a wall separating the bathrooms from the tables, and a few windows on the front wall facing the street. This caused some problems in the plans, and became affectionately known as GFW’s (George’s (bleeeeep) wall/window)!
Along with that rebuild, a major task, George decided to buy property on the other side of town and build a house, yep, in the same year. From Wood Valley Road to Wood Lane. So in spring of 2004 the restaurant reopened and George sold the old placed and moved into the new. What a time! And yes, the most all of the staff and the locals returned and the good times and good food resumed!
Unfortunately, in 2004 Tommy’s beloved Aussie Shepard passed away. JW (named after John Wayne), was bitten by a snake and sought refuge under the deck at George’s new home. In the morning he was gone. In 2005 George got a new Aussie puppy, W Junior, aka Dubya.
George continued on. And still working at Fat Ivor's, she again found the time to travel, this time jet setting one country to the next. Mainly visiting the Caribbean Islands and several countries in Europe, at first with friends and then on her own making new ones. A cherished trip among many was her visit to the Holy Land just a few years ago with fellow church friends, which was extra special. Her last trips included Australia and New Zealand, then a Mississippi Riverboat tour. George sold the restaurant and her home before the pandemic arrived. She relocated to Westmont Town Court in nearby Escondido for retirement living in January 2020.
George endured geriatric health issues beginning in June 2021, resulting in several hospital visits and two extended rehabilitation stays. She returned to home in time for Thanksgiving and was doing better each week. Her health took a turn on April 10th with another ambulance ride to the hospital.
The next day George told a doctor how much she enjoyed living in her apartment, her many friends and that she was happy. She then returned home to Westmont. What we thought was a mild hindrance in her recovery was unfortunately the opposite. George passed away peacefully on Tuesday morning April 12 in her sleep.
Westmont Town Court staff was wonderful in caring for George day to day during her ailments of the past year. She was always thankful for their service and kindness. All the staff members truly have hearts of gold. And such a relief she was able to keep the same apartment even when needing the extra assistance.
The physical therapy staff at Westmont was dedicated to George's recovery. She was delicate but strong-willed! They made every attempt to accommodate her time schedule, her desire to do more, or some days less, and always strived for her to be as safe as possible, especially in her apartment. Her therapy program was simply the best and kept us informed of her hurdles and successes.
Comfort and Peace Hospice provided quality care and supplies. When the situation arose enrollment was completed and supplies were delivered the very same day! George was actually a patient with hospice twice, the first time she graduated from the program as she was doing so well. Both times Comfort and Peace provided everything and more in necessary equipment and care. This was very reassuring for family at a most difficult time.
George stayed true to herself; she was loved, she loved others, and she loved life! And she kept everyone on their toes! Safe to say she continued to pass most everyone's expectations, one such instance was rebounding from a body weight of 69lbs, it can't be easy, but she did it! These past months it was a common occurrence to hear about the compliments she received had on how well she looked and how she was thriving. Her mind was sharp and she kept up with current events and happenings. She was again attending church regularly, which she had dearly missed.
Even when recovering from a fractured hip and ribs, back pain, ongoing rheumatoid arthritis, continued lifelong digestion maladies, etc... George bounced back to her base weight she'd been comfortable at for years. And all with no pain medications stronger than regular Tylenol even as she took her last breath.
The night before she passed she talked about an upcoming hair appointment and reminded us she was getting her nails done the next day. All was well, it seemed. She was looking forward to her next trip, a cruise to a favorite destination, Hawaii.
May you Rest in Peace George, with Tommy, Mother, Daddy, Dolores and Ronald, along with others close in heart. We know you are enjoying Heaven and must be in the midst of a big BBQ, cocktail in hand, along with beloved family and friends, including your lifelong animal loves running and playing too!
George has one surviving sibling, her youngest brother Howard, residing in Beloit, Wisconsin. She also has nine nieces and nephews spread around the country, and is a great aunt to many more. June 20th would have been her 89th birthday. Whether you are family, old friend or new, know that George enjoyed your friendship and love, it was a treasure she held close in her heart. She is certainly missed. When you think of her, smile and have a laugh of the good times. We are sure she is, too!
George's service will be at her church, Community Lutheran in Escondido at the bottom of the grade approaching Valley Center, on Saturday June 25 at 1pm. A private interment will be at Fort Rosecrans the following week, the soonest available date. Apparently it’s one of the most sought-after military cemeteries in the country!
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift of love and donate time, funds, or both (!) to your local Humane Society or favorite rescue. George had a soft spot for all animals.
California Funeral Alternatives in Escondido is handling arrangements and they have been wonderful.