George Zander as photographed by Jenny Taylor.
December 10th, 2015, at 12:45 p.m., George's Zander's husband, Chris Zander, posted this to his Facebook page:
“My husband George Zander passed away this morning in loving arms and in very little pain. His passion and strength has paved the road for many of us to follow, and build from. His legacy will live on forever. I love this man more than I love life itself, I can only assume that is what true love is.”
In February of 2015, I had the opportunity to interview George, just one of the many times I was honored to be in the same room with him working on causes or celebrating milestones important to most people in our community. He was a friend and activist ally to hundreds of people at any given time.
Nicholas Snow and George Zander in the Equality California offices, where George was helping Nicholas learn about Covered California, part of the Affordable Care Act.
Taken at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast by Jacqueline Rubalcava-López. This talk is included in the podcast below, or at this link.
The name of my regular column is “PS I love you because” in which I learn more about the subject, but also discover in their own words precisely why they love Greater Palm Springs. Here's what I published then, and revisit now.
As his official bio explains…
George Zander has been an activist for change for most of his life. Starting with helping found a Community Relations Committee in High School in Seattle to help build a better relationship between high school kids and the neighborhood, he also became active singing Christmas carols, organizing and attending pot lucks and walking the neighborhood.
Moving forward, after graduating from the University of Washington, he served in the Peace Corps in Micronesia, followed by continued government work in the islands, and more coalition building and teacher training.
Returning to Seattle, George jumped into local politics with coalition building, voter contact, volunteer recruitment and office management. He was also a Travel Agent for the AAA in Washington and Southern California.
George has been actively involved in Democratic Party to advance LGBT and other issues since 1974 when he was one of the first board members of Seattle's first openly lesbian and gay lobbying organization, The Dorian Group. He has worked for dozens of issues and candidates, including Chairing the King County Democratic Party (1992-96), and coordinating Seattle efforts in conjunction with the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign.
After moving to the Desert in 1997, he helped found the Desert Stonewall Democrats and was its chair for several years. After retiring from the AAA, he worked as a local staffer for Senator Barbara Boxer for two years and has continued to work on multiple campaigns for candidates and causes.
George currently sits on the Palm Springs Police Advisory Board, the PSPD LGBT Outreach Committee, serves as Vice Chair of the Warm Sands Neighborhood Organization and remains on the steering committee of the Desert Stonewall Democrats. He lives in Warm Sands with his husband Chris and three loving, spoiled cats — Petey, Satya and Charly.
George and Chris on vacation in Puerto Vallarta.
In February 2015, George explained… “PS I love you because…”
- …the sun is out most every day. Though I still have a kinship with progressive, festive and enlightened Seattle, the dark days and rain got to me. Being a Travel Agent, I had the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the sun I loved in Micronesia days, and in finding sun around the globe as a travel adviser, and decided this is it. I still must root for the Seattle teams (as we were taught in the Northwest to hate Southern California teams). I am a forever Seahawk, and I am not alone here!
- …the diversity of folks in this city amazes me. The PSNIC organization is amazing as 30-plus neighborhood associations work together to improve the city for all. So many folks here come from other places and even though seniors still dominate the population base, things are changing and the younger generations are arriving, starting businesses and adding to the culture…especially with galleries, cafes, shops and parties.
- …of the sophistication to want small, independent shop owners, not only downtown but uptown, South Palm Canyon and in Sunny Dunes West's antique district!! No malls for us! (Although there are some, to help with the diversity. And there is plenty of fast food and even a WalMart for some, but not for me).
- …the citizenry has the willingness to tackle tough stuff: police relations, which are quite excellent; homelessness, which needs lots of work, as well as funding to maintain and educate folks on the issue; acceptance of cannabis; and acceptance of LGBT folks; all about creating a village where can work together for all the residents here.
- …We as a community ignite and follow a spirituality that learns, directs and assists in positive ways every day.. Rumi lives here. And so does the man whose heart and soul I love. Christopher Zander. Rumi says… “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
George at yet another rally. Photo by David A. Lee.
As powerfully as he lived, news of George's death has become a major national news story. Click here.
We live in a very different world because George was in it, and we are all the better because he walked with us, and fought for us.