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George Pittman, teacher, mentor, traveler, community volunteer and loving husband and father died Jan 1, 2014 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 76.
Pittman was born to George E. and Myrtis Pittman in Decatur, Ga. June 29, 1937. After graduation from high school in Decatur, he continued his education at Mississippi College where he met his wife of 53 years Alicia Jones Pittman. He went on to the University of Mississippi and earned his Master’s and Ph.D., specializing in English Renaissance literature.
Pittman taught English at Middle Tennessee State University and later taught and chaired the English Department at Howard Payne University, and served as Dean of School of Arts and Sciences. In 1977 he returned to his undergraduate alma mater where he served as longtime chair of the English Department. During his lengthy tenure at Mississippi College, Pittman established the annual Shakespeare Festival, now in its 37th year. He was selected to be the first resident professor in the London semester program, an honor that combined two of his passions, teaching and travel. George also loved the arts. He served as volunteer with International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss. He did not limit his teaching to the classroom and was a popular lecturer on Shakespeare to various community groups often in Renaissance costume.
George and Alicia loved to travel, often leading students on trips throughout Europe. And for seven summers they taught English as a Second Language in schools and universities across China. In Alicia, George found his soul mate as they shared a passion for travel, service and adventure. For their 50th wedding anniversary they celebrated by doing “Fifty Things Great and Small” throughout the year.
In his distinguished teaching career, Pittman’s students and colleagues awarded him many teaching honors, including the Mississippi College Distinguished Professor and the Civitan Teacher of the Year. A champion of education, he established the Pittman Outstanding Young Professor Award. Active on campus, he served as president of Faculty Club and chairman of Publication and sponsored many student groups, working with local and international students. After retirement, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award. His devoted teaching and mentoring of students and younger colleagues will long endure.
A former colleague had this to say, “George was a favorite colleague of so many of us. We respected him as a scholar and an outstanding professor, but we loved him for his kindness, his easy-going nature, his sense of humor, and his sheer joy of living. His legacy as a professor, a department chair, a mentor to both students and instructors, and a beloved colleague will long be remembered.”
After four decades of teaching, George and Alicia retired to Aledo, to be closer to family. He was his grandchildrens’ biggest supporter, delighting in their many sports events and dance competitions.
In retirement it was as a leader and active volunteer, that George found his second calling. Utilizing his mentoring and teaching skills learned from a lifetime in the classroom, George used his gifts to benefit the greater Parker County area. At First Baptist Aledo, George was a deacon, a choir member, an active member of missions groups, and he loved being a part of The Joy Strummers Ukulele Choir. He and Alicia were committed volunteers at Parker County Center of Hope. He served as a client advisor at the center offering practical advice and spiritual support. More recently he worked with Refugee Services of Fort Worth. And he served on the board of directors and as a docent at Doss Heritage and Cultural Center where he and Alicia worked at summer camps.
Rare is the man whose guidance is so far reaching. Along with a generation of teachers, professors, deans, lawyers and doctors whom he shaped in his classrooms, George influenced the lives of the less fortunate of Parker County. In short the Renaissance scholar was a Renaissance man, who shared his considerable talents with grace, humor, compassion, and integrity.
Funeral Information: First Baptist Church, Aledo.
Memorials may be made to the Mississippi College English Department, Center of Hope – East Parker County (Aledo, TX) or Doss Heritage and Culture Center – Weatherford, TX.
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Alicia J. Pittman of Aledo; son, Greg Pittman and wife Angie of Round Rock; daughter Patti Pittman Gough and husband Norman of Aledo; brother Dr. Richard E. Pittman of Washington DC; grandchildren Tori and Ali Pittman and Tara and Travis Gough.