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George S. Converse, RIP

By Wade Hopkin

October 6, 1946 – May 2, 2018

Lieutenant Colonel George S. Converse was a unique individual and an outstanding writer.

As a contributor to the Naval History Institute magazine, he was listed as:

“…(U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.) graduated with a BA in English from Montana State University in 1968, the same year he was commissioned in the Marine Corps. During his twenty-eight-year career as an infantry officer, he served in all four Marine divisions; at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, DC; at the Marine Corps Combat Development and Education Command at Quantico, Virginia; and in combat tours in Vietnam and Lebanon. He resides in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.”

For the many people who knew him, each may have a different opinion and distinctive moment. For me, I think the real George can be found with the people he nurtured, his wit and insight, and especially his poetry which sang from his heart with beauty and joy.

David R. Tanis said this about his friend.

“George and I shared a rare commonality—both in that rare group of men who call themselves warrior-poets. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed each one of George’s terrific poems in his collection, The Winds of the Compass Rose. George was a remarkable man who perfectly embodied the toughness of the combat Marine and the human philosophical understanding of the poet.

“But most important of all his many admirable qualities, I could honestly call George my friend. I will miss him greatly.”

George’s great love and commitment were to the Naval history of Eastern Carolina with numerous articles appearing in the Daily Advance, written in a clear and concise style in precisely 500 words.

He was especially proud of publishing his collection of poems, The Winds of the Compass Rose, released in January of this year. As he wrote in the last poem of this collection:

Epilegomenon (1)
…And we are like the wind somehow,
ever changing as we flow;
meeting our helm to the turn of the bow,
as on our course we go.
We live our lives between the moon and the earth,
tossed back to fall to the foam,
never to rest in a quiet berth,
the windspun seeking a home.

On the last page of his book of poems, he penned:

The Season of the Winds to the Chinese,
The Tower of the Winds to the Greeks,
The Rosa dos Ventos to the Portuguese,
By the winds, to man, God Speaks.

On May 2, 2018, he died on the way to his 50th college reunion in Montana.

 

1 While there are many definitions of epilegomenon, I feel the explanation in Principles of Mental Physics, Richard B. Wells, 2009, Chapter 13, comes closest. Dr. Wells wrote, “Looking back I use the word epilegomenon to mean looking back at what we have covered and looking ahead at what implications this material holds for future developments. The words epilogue, epitome, and summary do not adequately convey this dual connotation of the look back and the look ahead, and that is why the word epilegomenon is introduced.”