George Mako (1936 – 2016)
A 27-year resident of Forked River
Lacey Township was home to George Mako and he contributed to his community in many ways. He loved getting to know his neighbors, the tellers at the bank, the postal worker and supporting local businesses. He was a regular with the Gille Park tennis players, at the library reading newspapers and picked up magazines from medical offices for the boys at Oceanfields. He spent 5 years as a snow bird between Forked River and Kingsland, Georgia. After his retirement, his love for his community and while still in good health and still active, he founded Mandorla, Inc. a small local non-profit that continues to serve the needs of the community through various locally based projects. When aging introduced new challenges, he chose Lacey as his full-time residency because of its small town feel and his love for his home on the river. Who was George Mako?
George was the son of first-generation American parents who only attained an eight-grade education and the grandson of Polish and Czechoslovakian immigrants. He was a fair student in high school who excelled at playing football and baseball. In 1954, at not quite 18 years of age and with parent permission, he joined the Korean War effort by enlisting in the United States Navy. He was assigned to an oil refueling tanker, the USS Mosopelea ATF-158 and his last assignment was Naval Intelligence. Upon completing his four-year tour of duty and with a GI bill to pay his expenses, George attended Trenton State College graduating with a teaching degree.
His first teaching job paid an annual salary of $3,800. Not quite enough for a married man with children, but he had a strong work ethic. During the school year he coached sports and during holidays and summers, he worked as a driver for the Greyhound Bus Company earning more money than at teaching. When offered a full-time position by Greyhound, he passed up the “high dollars” and devoted himself to making a difference in the lives of young people.
George was a strong believer in education and its value. He continued his studies with an MA degree from Seton Hall and doctoral studies in administration from Nova University. He worked for the Boards of Education in Edison Township, Point Pleasant Beach, Willingboro and with the Morris County Educational Services Commission.
As a professional educator, he served as an assistant superintendent, high school principal, teacher and coach. After a career in public education, he was founding vice-president of New Choices Educational Consulting Firm and an adjunct professor at several universities.
In his senior years, George rekindled his interest in sports with a secondary goal of staying healthy. He participated in several senior softball leagues throughout Ocean County and enjoyed the informal tennis games at Gille Park for the conversation and comradery. George competed in the New Jersey and National Senior Olympic Games from 1990 – 2007 where he won gold and silver medals in tennis, softball and basketball.
Other volunteer activities included AARP, New Jersey Governor’s Conference on Physical Fitness, Elder in the Clinton and Forked River Presbyterian Churches, Eagle Scout review board, Boy Scouts institutional representative, YMCA board of directors, board of education citizens advisory committee and United States Selective Service local board member.
He set and achieved goals throughout his life. Whether in his career, sports competitions or his volunteer activities. George was greatly admired and respected by those who had the privilege of knowing him. His legacy continues with Y-Move.