George, wizard in real estate, dies |

George, wizard in real estate, dies

Bob George, a senior member of Aspen’s real estate community, died suddenly Tuesday morning, leaving colleagues and friends with memories of a highly respected man who stayed behind the scenes. He was 61.George, who was president of Mason & Morse Real Estate, died of undetermined natural causes at his home on Red Mountain; an autopsy has been scheduled.George’s family began coming to Aspen to ski in 1948 and he moved here permanently after college in the 1960s, marrying his college sweetheart, Karin Knudson, in 1965.Over the years, George and his best friend and business partner, Bob Starodoj, worked in real estate together, eventually purchasing Mason & Morse from the company’s original owners.George became involved in many aspects of the community, serving as the president for the Aspen Board of Realtors, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and the Aspen School Board. He was also a member of the Aspen Elks Club, Mountain Rescue and the Rotary Club, and volunteered with the Sunshine Kids and Ducks Unlimited.”I think Bob was one of those silent killers of our community – he didn’t always speak out, but he was so knowledgeable and had such a high integrity,” said Molly Campbell, general manager at The Gant.

Campbell said she knew George for at least 30 years, from their early days in Aspen. “He’s not one of those people who try to get their name in the newspaper every day, but he is one person who was effective in guiding our business community for a very long time,” she said.The lives of George and Starodoj, vice president at Mason & Morse, became intertwined in the early ’60s, when they attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. They graduated together in 1964 and moved to Aspen.Starodoj said they had planned on pursuing the restaurant business. But on the afternoon in 1967 that they were turned down for a lease in Aspen, Starodoj wandered into Mason & Morse for a job, and George followed him in.”Not getting that lease was the best thing that ever happened,” Starodoj said. “Bob came into the company, Wendy [EW Morse] took him under his wing and immediately saw Bob’s potential in the management end of things.”At Mason & Morse, the two Bobs were inseparable, eventually taking over the company and growing it into the valley’s largest real estate firm.The men often finished each other’s sentences, Starodoj said, and one day after a meeting with someone interested in working for the company, the man across the table looked at George and Starodoj and said, ‘How long have you guys been married?'”We looked at each other and said, ‘A long time,'” Starodoj said, laughing. “It was one of those situations where we’d been together so long, we each knew what the other was thinking before it came out of our mouths.”

Local attorney Lenny Oates, who had also known George for years, echoed Campbell’s sentiments about his propensity to stay out of the spotlight.”He was never the face man for the company – he was about the business end of the business,” Oates said. “He was so low key, it was like nobody ever saw him. You’d see him driving by and you’d wave, but that was it.””He was very respected and active in the community, but he wanted very little recognition for it and liked to keep a low profile,” Starodoj explained. “His passion for it all was because this was his community, and even though he didn’t go to high school here, he felt he grew up with all of the local kids. He wanted to be a responsible member of the community.”Local agent Carol Ann Jacobson started in real estate around the same time as George, and while she agrees that he was a man who was quiet, approachable and friendly, what really stands out for her is his love of family.”‘Family’ is the word I’d sum him up with,” Jacobson said. “He was the ultimate family man – his love of his family was utmost, but he was fortunate to have many families. He had a Mason & Morse family, which was a close second, and the overall [real estate] family.””I will miss him greatly, and I’ll miss a great business partner,” Starodoj said.

Robert George is survived by his wife, Karin; three children and their spouses, Kristen and Steve Fitzgerald, Robert D. George and Clara Coleman, Stacey and Dirk Hale; a sister, Glennis Beck and niece Brenna Mitchell. He also has four grandchildren – Ryan, Kelsey, Robbie and Savanna – and one on the way.The family will have a gathering in his memory on Tuesday, June 15, at a location to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to any charity of choice.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is– see George on page A8– continued from page A1

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