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Frank George


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William Franklin ‘‘Frank’’ George (October 6, 1928 – November 15, 2017) was born in Bluefield. He graduated from Concord College (now Concord University) in 1957 with a degree in biology. As a child, George was exposed to traditional Appalachian music, and he first heard fiddle music from his grandfather, William Washington George, when he was six. He learned to play the fiddle and banjo on instruments made for him by his father, Otie George.

While in the army in Europe, George traveled to Scotland, England, and Ireland to learn the traditional music of the British Isles, which he recognized as the forerunner of Appalachian music. After leaving the army, George returned to Bluefield and continued his study of traditional music. Since 1967, he has been featured on 14 recordings.

George met his wife, Jane Taylor Cox, at the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair at Cedar Lakes in 1966. Jane, a significant figure in the Appalachian handicrafts revival, was born November 11, 1922, in Roane County and graduated from West Virginia State College (now University) in 1967. She was involved with the first Art & Craft Fair, a Centennial event in 1963, and later worked in crafts development at the state Department of Commerce. By the late 1960s, she worked with the West Virginia University Extension Service to promote awareness of West Virginia’s cultural heritage through the Mountain Heritage programs, which featured traditional music, dance, cooking, crafts, and storytelling. Frank George actively participated in these programs from their beginning. They married in Norton, Virginia, on December 6, 1969.

Together the couple promoted the traditional culture of Southern Appalachia and the British Isles throughout the United States and Europe. Each received the prestigious Division of Culture and History’s Vandalia Award for their contributions to the preservation of traditional West Virginia culture. Jane and Frank George moved to Roane County in 1978. They remained active in folk culture programs in their community and at several state folklife festivals. Frank died at CAMC hospital in Charleston. He was 89. Jane George died at home February 19, 2018.

Written by Michael M. Meador

Sources

  1. Meador, Michael M. Grandpaw Got Me Started. Goldenseal, (Spring 1983).