My Old Friend George Linton Touchton 1943-2012

My Old Friend George Linton Touchton 1943-2012

A Tribute to a Good Old Boy

After 44 years I finally made contact again with George and his first wife Cathy just a few short weeks ago. I was thrilled and delighted to be able to talk to Cathy again and to learn a little about their lives since we departed from Carriacou in the 1960s. I was looking forward to hearing more from them and to learn something about George’s environmental zero emissions heating project (see www.zerechp.com) which seemed to be coming to fruition.  Imagine my shock then when I was told on Wednesday that George died last Thursday.

This sad news was compounded by the fact that George died from a brain haemorrhage as a result of a suspected fall. The improbable irony lay in the fact that George’s ten year project to provide an alternative energy heating source had almost reached its final stages of development. A care for the environment had been a theme close to George’s heart even when we were volunteer teachers at Bishop’s College.

We arrived in Carriacou early in September 1967. At first we were accommodated in Mr & Mrs Mott’s Guest House next to the old Bishop’s College building in the centre of town. After a few weeks George and Cathy found a house to rent just south of the town and they kindly invited me to take a room with them. I duly did just that and we housed together for the rest of the year.

I quickly came to realise that George was a highly intelligent, caring person with a sardonic, sharp, dry wit. He had an ability to see to the heart of a problem and to work out resolutions. He was also a fighter, a seeker of the truth and a fully fledged eco-warrior. He even made an outstanding attempt to learn how to play cricket, though I do believe it may have been the one thing that totally baffled him.

George had degrees in Physics and had spent some time working on a time reversal project back in the States. This had been wound up and George found himself in headlong conflict with the US Draft Board over the war in Vietnam. George was dead set against the war and had collated a wealth of material to fight his case which he did with amazing insight and vigour. He talked to me at length about his reasons for opposing the war and opened my eyes to the causes of that conflict and the reasons why it should cease. I recall the worrying times when call-up was a real possibility and his determination to fight his corner.

Both George and Cathy were actively involved with Civil Rights and had marched with Martin Luther King. Goot, (BCs Principal) often remarked how commendable their stance was given the general attitude to Civil Rights in George’s South Georgia home at that time. George not only spoke up for Civil Rights put his head well above the parapet and shouted out his beliefs for all to hear. I remember feeling nothing but respect and admiration for his honesty and sheer guts. In his attitude to Civil Rights and the war George was ahead of his time.

George had a healthy disrespect for British imperialism. He gently chided me over the shrinking British Empire. And he did it to music, replacing the words ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves’ with ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the Thames’. He would laugh heartily as he sang it, and invariably pushed up his glasses with a resolute forefinger as he did so. I found it hard to disagree.

George was not very comfortable in or on water but around Christmas time we decided to pool our resources and buy a sailing boat. We had no idea where or how. Paddy (Roberts), a colleague at BC came to our aid. He knew of a sailing boat for sale in Petite Martinique. We sailed over to PM and in one afternoon bought ‘Archie A’. A quart of ‘Jack’ was used to bless the purchase and we sailed her over to Windward.

The following day we ‘goosewinged’ dramatically around Gun Point and proceeded down to Hillsborough. It was a hairy ride and I felt very apprehensive. We put our faith in Paddy. My biding memory is George sitting, grim faced amidships, grasping the gunwales with white knuckles. Every so often he would quickly remove a hand and push up his glasses but he never expressed a single word of concern. We had wonderful times sailing Archie to Sandy island for day’s out and midnight fishing expeditions and barbecues. We would sail back in the early hours under a brilliant moon with white phosphorescence lighting our way home.

George’s discomfort on the sea could have been attributed to the fact that his distance vision wasn’t too good without his glasses though he never let on. It only became obvious one day when he thought Cathy had been washed out to sea. He was desperately shouting for me to help whilst, at the same time, trying to drag our heavy boat down the beach. I made him stop and put his glasses on. He looked out and realised the cause for his concern was not Cathy; it was in fact a pelican.

During the dry season everybody’s water tanks dried up. Fresh water was limited to drinking and cooking. We had to carry buckets of salt water for the loo. Undeterred George set out to find a solution. He discovered there were government underground water reserves in the hills behind Hillsborough. He then found and hired a truck with a water tank. Before we had time to think George had not only filled our tank but had gone round the neighbours filling up their tanks and water butts as well. He was generous in thought and deed.

Thursday evenings were set aside for dinner of pasta and jello with Father Fitton in the Catholic rectory. After the meal the guys, such as ‘Scraper’ and Leo, would take up their guitars and entertain us with rounds of Calypso. Cathy would play her flute or sing folk melodies accompanying herself on guitar. It was a highlight of the week. Sometimes ‘the guys’ would appear at our house. One evening while sitting round the kitchen table they started a round of impromptu calypso verses. Round and round they went with increasing inventiveness and imagination. I can see George now laughing and applauding their audacity and originality.

1967-68 was a year when we laughed, sang, played, worked and cried together. We accepted our differences and shared our common humanity. Carriacouans welcomed us with open arms and we embraced their friendship. George and Cathy shared their home with me and we felt like a family. I cannot remember a bad word between us, just the fun, the laughter and living on an emotional high absorbing life like the proverbial sponge. George played a big part in my life during that year. So much so I have never forgotten his contribution to my understanding of the world. I just wish I’d hopped on a plane and travelled over to shake his hand and laugh with him one more time.

Bless you George.

 

 

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16 Responses to My Old Friend George Linton Touchton 1943-2012

  1. Cathy Deppe says:

    Thank you Bill, for a wonderful rendition of our unforgettable George and the year we all sailed together on the esay-going calypso beat of Carriacou. I am so happy we have connected – never ever suspected all those prints you hung to dry in our bathroom “dark room” would be out there on an internet web page. Nor that you would have kept such a delightful journal and turn it all into ” Carriacou 1968″ so effortlessly. Cheers to you and everyone from Carriacou, where-ever you might be today. I’d be grateful to hear back from each of you.
    Love and peace,
    Cathy (Touchton) Deppe

    • Bill Cameron says:

      Cheers Cathy,
      Believe it or not we are about to join Bill and Jill Clack and Sue (then Dixon)- for dinner this evening at Deep Cove, Vancouver. We are here for a few weeks visiting family. I would like to think that one day, not too long away, we can can get to California to meet up with you all.
      Best wishes. It’s great we are back in touch.
      Bill

  2. Martin Deppe says:

    Cath: What a marvelous tribute; what stunning photo’s. Did you see these snapshots back in 67-68? Did Mom get to see them? Just curious. Peg and I are reading this e-mail at the public library while transitioning to a new PC. Hopefully, when we get back on track we can print some of these photos for ourselves to share with fam. I assume you’ve sent them to John as well.
    Thanks for sharing; let’s talk soon.
    Love, Mart

  3. Jennifer Touchton says:

    Reading this tribute to my dad made me laugh and cry. The George Touchton described here was the same man I knew – the politically astute, opinionated, truly caring humanitarian. It is wonderful to have this description of him from a friend who knew him in the years just before I was born.

    • Bill Cameron says:

      Thank you for the comment Jennifer. Your dad was indeed a great fella. I hope you will be able to print off the images for yourself. If not, let me know.
      Best wishes,
      Bill

    • Hello Jennifer,
      It has been so long since the last time that I actually saw you and truly hope that all things in your life are good and in order. I am very thankful that I was able to come across this site created by Bill while also being able to see some fine photo’s along with my many good memories of your dad. Just perhaps one day we can exchange a few words.

      Jeff

  4. Miriam Touchton says:

    What a pleasure and a comfort to read your wonderful, heartfelt tribute to my father, and to look through all of the terrific photos on your site. Thank you! I’m so enjoying the glimpse your site gives of this time in Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

    • Bill Cameron says:

      Thank you Miriam. I’m delighted the photos and posts on the site give you some idea of your dad as a young man. He was a joy to be around. Please feel free to print off any of the photos if you so wish.
      All the best,
      Bill

  5. joe touchton says:

    Thanks so much for holding on to these. I never got to go see George & Cathy on the island. I was in UT at the time and quite broke and the draft board was quite hot on my heals. I wish now I had borrowed the money or something to go see them. You never know how life is going to turn out. Be well.

    • Bill Cameron says:

      Good to hear from you Joe. You would’ve had a great time had you been able to get there. In fact you still could! Carriacou is still the same welcoming place it always has been. You never know, I may catch you there some time. Best, Bill

  6. It can be very strange how certain people never leave one’s memory even after near four decades have gone by with little to almost zero communication. There have been a few attempts made by me without success, but when there are particular individuals planted in a persons mind because of only the good memories with never an argument or even any faults to speak, we just never give up. And now I have just sadly learned that George has left us all due an unforeseen early retirement from life itself.

    This site from Bill Cameron who I have never even known along with any people who knew George or Cathy was as a blessing from God for me simply because I was able to see some photo’s while also learning parts of their life that I never knew.

    One thing that I had in common with them both is a genuine concern for all others on this planet regardless of who or where they may be; and that is because we were all created equal, but the mind of man through a psychological breakdown distributed by the god of this world has turned this planet into a nightmare getting ready to come to life on this entire world’s civilization with none, no, not one person being spiritually prepared.

    My feelings reach out to George’s second wife, his family and all those who knew him because I am sure he will always be greatly missed.

    My name is Jeff @ 57 and am a cousin to Cathy. I now have been living in the Philippines for the past six years.

  7. Bud Grace says:

    I knew George when we were undergraduates at FSU. His brother, Jerome, and I were very close friends. I’m so sorry to hear that he passed. I remember playing chess with George and having my clock cleaned. Rest in Peace, George.

  8. Picture number 6 is certainly of the George I knew many years ago. We met the first day of the honors program at FSU in 1961. He was an Engineering Science major, and I was in Physics. We were in a large group of honors students in those two programs who studied and socialized together. George and I were roommates at 3 different locations at FSU. After graduating in 1965, we both went to grad school in physics at the Univ of Illinois. I think I was best man at his wedding in Chicago. Not sure what year they left Univ of Ill.

    Bill, your description of George is perfect – I have nothing to add.

    • Bill Cameron says:

      Thank you for your comment Richard. He was a bright lad wasn’t he. I lived with Geo and Cathy for around 9 fabulous months in Carriacou. Let me know if you would like me to put you on my mailing list. I primarily just send notices of new posts.
      Best wishes,
      Bill

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