By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FORT WRIGHT - Having survived World War II and received a heart transplant at age 63, George Edmondson believed he was twice blessed.
The Fort Wright resident and former educator for Kenton County Schools died Tuesday at St. Elizabeth Hospice in Covington. He was 78.
Each time, Mr. Edmondson promised himself that he would use his blessings to help others, said his son, Gary Lee Edmondson of Bellaire, Texas.
Mr. Edmondson served in the 3rd Armored "Spearhead" Division, which swept across Europe into Germany after landing in Normandy a few weeks after D-Day. The division was instrumental in the Normandy invasion, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped capture Cologne.
His job was to deliver ammunition to tanks as they fought on the front lines, his son said.
After the war, Mr. Edmondson was active with the 3rd Armored Division Association. Last year, he was the honorary president and host of the group's 56th reunion, held in Northern Kentucky.
"The soldiers in WWII, they never knew if they were going to live from one day to the next," his son said. "My dad, who was a very spiritual man, prayed that if God got him through that war he was going to try to spend his life helping people."
He found a way to fulfill his promise through teaching, his son said. He taught several years at the former New Haven Elementary in Boone County after graduating from Georgetown College in 1949.
He served as principal at Park Hills Elementary (1956-60) and as principal at Simon Kenton High School (1960-67). From 1967 to 1978 he was the curriculum director of Kenton County Schools.
He also taught Sunday school for 23 years at Latonia Baptist Church, where he was a deacon.
Mr. Edmondson considered his heart transplant his second blessing.
"He felt like God really blessed him," said Mr. Edmondson's daughter, Kathleen Solter of Flemingsburg. "That God gave him a second chance and there must have been a reason for it."
He received the heart in 1988 through a trial program that allowed people older than 60 to receive transplants, an uncommon practice at the time.
After his surgery, his daughter said, Mr. Edmondson took senior citizens on bus trips, got more involved with his church and counseled the families of potential transplant patients through University Hospital.
In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife of 56 years, Lois Irene Edmondson; another daughter, Emily Gail Mills of Frankfort; a brother, William Ray Edmondson of Independence; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Services have been held.
Memorials: 3rd Armored Division Monument at Valley Forge, Perpetual Maintenance Fund, P.O. Box 2346, South Bend, IN 46680-2346.
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