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George Robert Drummond
George Robert Drummond was born April 16, 1920 in Drummonds, Tenn. He died Jan. 17, 2012 in Las Vegas. George was an Owens Valley resident for 65 years, having migrated from East Prairie, Mo. in 1939.
George married Billie Oldham (deceased, 2003) on Halloween 1940. During their 28 years of marriage, they had five children: Deanna Jean Drummond (deceased, 1942); Muree Reafs of Henderson, Nev.; Robert Drummond of Las Vegas; Carol Zimmerman of Henderson; and Janet Pettet of Bishop; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
George was a World War II veteran, proudly serving in the U.S. Navy Seabees (Philippines Liberation, 1943-1945) and briefly in Peking, China. George was active in the American Legion Post 457 (Big Pine), holding most offices and serving several terms as its Commander. He was instrumental in acquiring and erecting the quonset hut known as the “American Legion Hall” (now Big Pine’s City Hall).
Although George was known as a “jack-of-all-trades,” much of his career was spent in the construction/ building trades. Some of the projects he helped to build include the Owens Valley Gorge hydro-power project north of Bishop (1941); private residences in Big Pine and Bishop (1950s-60s), including his family’s home on North School Street in Big Pine (1951-52); the California Polytechnic State University (Pomona) “ears” (antennas used for deep space radio exploration) near Big Pine; the University of California (Berkeley) White Mountain Research Station east of Bishop (where scientists studied the effects of high altitudes on humans).
George was probably best known for “bringing television to Big Pine” when he installed and operated his own TV cable system in the late 1950s. He also repaired TV sets. In the late 1970s, George moved to Bishop where he owned and operated a mobile and modular homes sales and installation business until he retired – although he always claimed he never “officially” retired.
George was a private pilot. His flight instructor was Irene Leverton. She was one of the 13 women chosen by NASA for its “First Lady Astronauts Team” – part of the Mercury Seven project in the early 1960s.
The Drummond/Grimes family belonged to the Poplar Grove Methodist Church in Drummonds. George’s maternal great-grandfather, Lewis W. Grimes, was an ordained minister in the church that served congregations in Maury County, Tenn. beginning in 1855. When George and Billie settled in Big Pine, they joined the Methodist Church, which all of their children attended. Rev. Karen Moore recently recalled that in the early 1940s George and neighbor Aileen Hunnewell planted the sycamore tree in front of the church. It’s a lovely tree, having grown quite large and tall, shading much of the front lawn and parking area. George also did some work on the church’s bell tower.
A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 12 at the Big Pine Methodist Church. Family and friends are invited to join the Drummond family at a gathering in the Church’s social hall following the graveside service at the Big Pine Cemetery.