Ret. Col. George's Story
Ret. Col. George Marion Cross was born January 12, 1927 in Clinton, Oklahoma to Arnett and Jessie Raye (Meler) Cross. He died June 5th in Norman, Oklahoma after a lengthy illness.
George Cross was an exemplar of the military phrase an officer and a gentleman. Enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1945, six months after graduating from Clinton High School, he served for a year as an MP in Germany. George returned to school at the University of Oklahoma on the GI bill, graduating in 1953 with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration, and was designated as a Distinguished Military Graduate, having participated in the advanced ROTC program. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Regular Army, and continued a military career that spanned more than thirty-two years. He served in the Korean War, was assigned to Fort Sill as an artillery instructor, and had a tour of duty in Germany where he was promoted to Captain. George was later assigned to the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois as an Assistant Professor of Military Science. Promoted to Major, he was also selected to attend the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS after which he served in Vietnam from July 1966 to July 1967, and received a Purple Heart. He returned to Bethesda, MD and eventually was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, working as a writer-editor for classified information at the Pentagon, and receiving the Meritorious Service Award.
George loved family, and while living in Bethesda he met Henrietta Barzin on a blind date. They were married November 7, 1970, beginning their more than 47 blessed years together and combining their families of three children each, elevating another role he loved: being a dad. Henrietta was with George during all his assignments following their marriage, the first being to Ft. Riley, KS where he served as a battalion Commander, and later Director of Industrial Operations. This preceded another tour to Korea, where George was promoted to Colonel and appointed Chief of the Armistice Affairs Division. He also served as the Secretary of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission. Both oversaw any charges of violations of the armistice agreement establishing the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. In August of 1975, Col. Cross was named the Commander of Fort Chaffee, AR, the largest of four processing locations for the resettlement of refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia. His final years in the army were back at Ft. Sill as Director of Industrial Operations.
After retiring from his military career, George and Henrietta returned to Norman, where George again attended OU, earning his Master of Education degree in 1985, concentrating on Counseling and Psychology. George went to work for the Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center until his second retirement in 1996.
Ret. Col. Cross was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church of Norman. He served as an Elder, was a member of a Pastor Nominating Committee, and participated in the mens Bible Study group. He regularly worked out at the YMCA before his illness, enjoyed reading, writing his memoirs, fishing, and golfing. He was a man who centered his life on God, family, and service to his country and others, while striving to live with honor and gratitude.
Survivors include his wife, Henrietta; sons David Cross (wife, Sarah) and Jim Cross; daughter Marion Graettinger (husband, Ralph); step-daughters Robin Wain and Heather Graham (husband, Kerry); and his niece, Susan Chandler. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Laura and Emma Cross; Katherine Ann (Kate) Cross; Heather Marie Naves; Erika and Rachel Graham. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Esther Chandler; a brother-in-law, Ret. Col. Norman Chandler; step-son R. Scott Barzin; and step-daughter Michelle Barzin.
Georges family has entrusted his care to Tribute Memorial Care in Norman (405.292.4787). A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 9th at First Presbyterian Church, Norman, OK, and burial will be at a later date in Elgin, OK at the Ft. Sill National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First Presbyterian or to the Parkinsons Foundation at Parkinson.org
Please share condolences and memories of George at www.tribute.care.
Published on June 6, 2018