George Justice, meteorologist and IRS agent, dies at 91

George Warren Justice Jr., who changed careers from a weather predictor to the Internal Revenue Service, died of heart failure Nov. 10 at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. The Parkville resident was 91.

Born in Port Jervis, N.Y., he was the son of George Warren Justice Sr., a General Electric Co. millwright, and his wife, Ruth Burgess, a homemaker.

A genealogist, Mr. Justice found he was descended from a Union Army solider who served at Gettysburg and Little Round Top.

He was raised in Woburn, Mass., and was a 1944 graduate of Woburn High School, where he was class historian and played on the school’s varsity football team. He also lettered in track. In 2006, Mr. Justice created a scholarship at the school to honor his favorite teachers. The award allows a student who studied French to continue their education at a college.

When Mr. Justice was 17, he enlisted in the Navy and studied meteorology at Lakehurst, N.J., a dirigible landing site. He trained in weather observation — aerology — and was later assigned to the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida. He left military service as a petty officer, second class, in 1946.

He then earned a bachelor’s degree in geography at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Mr. Justice joined the National Weather Service in Portland, Maine, and later worked in Fairbanks, Alaska.

After a short time, he moved on to a weather observation post in Barrow, Alaska, many miles north of the Arctic Circle. According to an autobiographical sketch he prepared, he worked in a distant weather station near an Inuit village in 1951. He worked in Alaska for three years.

“There was an innocence about him. He remained a good soul,” said a friend, Joseph Jaffa, a Baltimore resident. “He loved to volunteer and to help others. And he never lost his strong New England accent.”

Mr. Justice then transferred to Canton Island, a coral atoll in South Pacific. The island is on an air route between Australia and Hawaii, which is 1,500 miles distant. He stayed on the island for a year, when he transferred to Athens, Georgia, where he remained with the weather service. There, he met his future wife, Ruth Veinot.

In 1958, he left federal service and joined Pan American Airways as a meteorological assistant at the Cape Canaveral Missile Testing Range in Florida.

In 1960 Mr. Justice changed careers and moved to Washington, D.C., where he joined the Internal Revenue Service as a statistician.

He settled in Bowie and joined the Cresthill Baptist Church, where he was a deacon, Sunday school teacher, treasurer and financial secretary.

He retired from the IRS in 1982 and continued to work as a part-time statistical researcher for local firms.

He also volunteered for the American Cancer Society and drove patients to medical appointments.

In 2001, after the death of his first wife, he married Gladys Callahan Vocci, an archaeologist and Renaissance Institute instructor. He moved to Parkville and lived on Cider Mill Road.

“He was a kindhearted faithful friend,” said Linda DeFontes, a friend. “He was independent and reserved and was a generous person. he was always interested in young people, When we were at a restaurant, he would ask a server, ‘Are you going to college?’ ”

The couple traveled throughout Europe and Central America, Africa and Malta on archaeological trips.

In 2004, Mr. Justice returned to his old post in Barrow, Alaska, and discovered that it had changed. In his autobiography, he described it as “a small city of 4,000 with all the amenities of a municipality — fire and police departments and water and sewage systems, a hotel, restaurants, hospital, churches and schools.”

He said that he re-connected with the Inuit family of his former weather maintenance technician.

His second wife died in 2006. He continued to travel and visited Greece, Germany, Egypt and Ireland, where he did additional genealogical research on his family. He was a Boston Red Sox fan and attended functions at the Johns Hopkins University Club. He also enjoyed lunches at the Orchard Market and Cafe in Baynesville.

Friends said that Mr. Justice was personally frugal, but was generous to others.

He was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church and assisted in its compassion center, a food pantry. He was a scholarship donor at Loyola University Maryland.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

Survivors include his sister, Rita Jean Devlin of Wilmington. Mass.; and nieces and nephews. He is also survived by numerous stepchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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