George Pappas: From Brooklyn to Berkeley and Beyond!

March 16, 2020

Born in Brooklyn, George Pappas still has a hint of a New York accent, but he has come a long way since then. He did most of his growing up in Manhasset, a small town on the North Shore of Long Island, during the Great Depression and World War II. In fact, he had expected to go to war.

“The high school built an obstacle course and we did 45 minutes of Navy calisthenics every day. We were all prepared to go into the service,” remembers George. Instead, the war ended and a year later when he was 18 his family moved to San Francisco. His parents had already lived there.

George’s father Louis was born in Greece. When he was just 13, he traveled alone to meet a cousin in Virginia and learned to be a candymaker. In 1907, the year after the earthquake, Louis moved to San Francisco and opened a candy store. Eventually, he wrote to his father back in Greece to say he was ready to marry. The next year, Louis went to Greece and married a young woman named Panagiota (Pauline, once she was here). They came to California for a while but Pauline wanted to live near family out East, so they moved to New York and raised their three sons.

Once the family was back in San Francisco, George decided to take some time before starting college and worked assisting a candymaker at his uncle’s store, The Red Poppy Candy Story on Polk Street. “They made all kinds of candies, jellies, and chocolates,” remembers George. After three years, George enrolled at UC Berkeley studying business administration and finance. He graduated in 1954 with an MBA in Finance. He then spent two years in the service, first in officer training and then at Nike Missile Bases in Washington State as a finance officer.

Back in civilian life, George went to work at Wells Fargo in San Francisco analyzing stocks and bonds, got married, and moved to Orinda. George and his first wife had two wonderful children: Andrea, an Art History Professor at Santa Clara University, and Clark who has three children and is a National Director at Canine Companions for Independence in Sebastopol.

After Wells Fargo, George joined Lawrence Berkeley and Livermore Labs where he became Budget Director and later Associate Laboratory Director for Administration. He stayed there until his retirement.

George and his second wife Nancy traveled the world. They went to England, Europe, Asia, Australia, British Columbia, bike tours of Brittany and Normandy, plus took seven cruises. On an 8-week trip to France and England, they rented a cottage in the Cotswolds and had friends visit. George enjoyed one of his passions: playing tennis against highly competitive team players. George and Nancy were married for 30 years and shared many unforgettable moments. She passed away just over three years ago.

When it was time to move again, George chose Sterling Court to be closer to his Peninsula friends and received excellent recommendations. “The food is good. And the people are pleasant and interesting,” he says. George may be retired but he still has a full computer setup and well-used desk for staying involved.

George’s life advice? “Live in the present and enjoy every day.” It’s obvious that this world-traveling Brooklyn Boy has lived by those words.

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