IN MEMORIAM: Ian George ‘64

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The Most Rev. Ian Gordon Combe George, Class of 1964, D.D. 2003 died January 29, 2019 at the age of 84.  He was the archbishop of Adelaide, Australia between 1991 and 2004.

Born August 12, 1934, George was ordained a priest in 1964 after an early career as a lawyer. He held curacies at St. Thomas’s Mamaroneck and St. David’s Burnside, and was then Priest-in-Charge at St. Barbara’s Woomera. After this he was a chaplain and lecturer in history at the University of Western Australia. He was Dean of Brisbane from 1973 to 1981 when he became Archdeacon of Canberra. In 1989, he was appointed an assistant bishop of the diocese until he was transferred to Adelaide.

George was recognized in the 2001 Australia Day Honours as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to the Anglican Church, ecumenism and to the community through engagement in social policy issues and international relief work.” His passion for refugees was a hallmark of his social engagement, in particular during his time as Archbishop of Adelaide.

A keen supporter of the arts, especially the visual arts, George loved to make links between the great Christian themes of forgiveness, redemption, and resurrection and the great masters. His Good Friday tours of the Art Gallery of South Australia were one way he expressed his love of the arts.

In 2004, just several months before he was due to retire, George resigned from the role of archbishop after a report was released on the church’s mishandling of sex abuse cases. Assistant Bishop Tim Harris told Australian press sources that George had lived in Melbourne following his resignation and had been very reflective and mindful of the concerns of others. In 2016, George made a submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, admitting that he should have done more to help victims during his time in charge, and that he felt “a deep sense of remorse.” “I accept that my failure to act in a way which placed the welfare of survivors of abuse and their families at the centre of the diocesan response,” said Bishop George, “resulted in further hurt to those survivors and their families. I am truly sorry that my leadership failed them.”

George suffered a stroke in late 2018, and another in early 2019 leading to his death at The Alfred Hospital two weeks later. He is survived by his wife, Barbara George. A Thanksgiving Service for his life was held in St. John’s Anglican Church, 86 Clendon Road, Toorak on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, followed by a private cremation.