George Mckay Harmston of South Salt Lake returned to his heavenly home on Friday, December 8th, 2023, at the age of 83. He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred Harmston and Verna Eloise Hawley, beloved stepmother Jane Trolson, and brother Julian. He is survived by his wife of 54 years—Gail—and his other siblings: Brian (Bennie), John (Ernestine), Mary, and Kathy (Paul). George has three sons: John (Becca), Wesley (Aiden), and Robert, as well as ten grandchildren (Lincoln, Adyson, Avery, Isabelle, Aaric, Aspen, Amber, Jack, Sam, and Will).

George was born during WWII on May 2nd, 1940, in Logan, Utah. The family frequently moved due to Fred’s work with the US Public Health Service and George attended six different schools before graduating. As a boy he was fascinated by military warplanes, an infatuation that would persist throughout his life. He was also an avid Boy Scout and enjoyed spending time in the wilderness with his family. He ran track in high school, but his proudest athletic achievement was once beating his friend and future NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen in an arm-wrestling match.

At the start of the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the US Air Force in hopes of becoming a fighter pilot. His poor eyesight doomed that dream, and he spent the war as a supply sergeant in the medical clinic of Bitburg Air Base in Germany. While oversea he spent his spare time racing on the Nürburgring Grand Prix Racetrack for the Sunbeam race team. George was also a polyglot, able to speak English, German, French, and Russian.

After serving his country, George attended Brigham Young University where he was on the ballroom dance team. While there he met and married the love of his life, Gail Wildey, with whom he was inseparable for the rest of his life. The couple lived in Rochester NY where they raised their three sons while he worked for Xerox and taught high school technology. Toward the end of his career the family moved to Palmyra NY where George would serve as the LDS Bishop of the Palmyra Ward, predicting that one day there would be a temple near the Hill Cumorah, an outlandish prospect at the time. Years later he and Gail organized the Palmyra Temple open house and volunteered as temple workers. They also were members of the board of Historic Palmyra, overseeing the local network of museums. After retirement they served a couple’s proselytizing mission in the Germany Hamburg Mission.

George enjoyed nothing more than watching his children and grandchildren play sports. He and Gail also found great joy while performing in a group called the Off-Monroe Players, a theater troupe that specialized in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. His other favorite hobby was making model airplanes. He was a lifelong member of International Plastic Modelers Society and served as the IPMS Rochester chapter president several times. He would often build obscure scale replicas from scratch and won many first-place awards at national model contests, with some of his models now residing in museums. He was an avid military history researcher, accomplished storyteller, and one of the foremost experts in the world on German WWII fighter aces.

In their twilight years the couple moved back to George’s childhood home in Salt Lake to be closer to family. George’s life was defined by service and devotion to loved ones. He was a kind and gentle man, and no one who knew him can remember him ever saying an unkind thing about another person in his entire life. He will be dearly missed by all.

A funeral will be held in his honor on Saturday, December 16th at Wing Mortuary in Lehi, Utah (118 E. Main St, Lehi). The viewing is at 10am and the service begins at 11am. The funeral will be broadcast live online and later as a recording. Flower arrangements can be sent to the mortuary.

Services

Life Story Info

Post Date

Dec 11, 2023

Personal Info

Born

Logan, Utah, United States

Died

Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Cause of Death

Illness

Age

83

Gender

Male

Religion and Beliefs

Latter-day Saint

Occupation

Education

Military Affiliation

  • Air Force

Veteran

  • Vietnam War

Worked For

  • Xerox
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Guestbook

Sending condolences on your loss. Although, I did not know Mr. George Harmston, I am glad to be a colleague of Dr. Wesley Harmston. Having read Mr. Harmston's obituary, I understand how his son is such a kind and caring physician and coworker, and I am grateful to work alongside him at the Access Westside Family Health Center in Chicago. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you mourn your loss and celebrate the life of your loved one.

Christy Reinhard , Park Ridge, IL, US Dec 16, 2023

Sending condolences on your loss. Although, I did not know Mr. George Harmston, I am glad to be a colleague of Dr. Wesley Harmston. Having read Mr. Harmston's obituary, I understand how his son is such a kind and caring physician and coworker, and I am grateful to work alongside him at the Access Westside Family Health Center in Chicago. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you mourn your loss and celebrate the life of your loved one.

Christy Reinhard , Park Ridge, IL, US Dec 16, 2023

Sending condolences on your loss. Although, I did not know Mr. George Harmston, I am glad to be a colleague of Dr. Wesley Harmston. Having read Mr. Harmston's obituary, I understand how his son is such a kind and caring physician and coworker, and I am grateful to work alongside him at the Access Westside Family Health Center in Chicago. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you mourn your loss and celebrate the life of your loved one.

Christy Reinhard , Park Ridge, IL, US Dec 16, 2023

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