The Herald News, Wednesday, December 4,2013 – Page B2

Fall River is mourning the loss of one of its longtime leaders. Loretta George, who died Saturday at Charlton Memorial Hospital after an illness, never held public office, but she dutifully served the city for decades. A trailblazer and pioneer in many ways, George led the city’s business community in a variety of capacities in the 1970s and 1980s – at a time when few women held positions of power in a male-dominated business world.

George became the first female president of Fall River’s Chamber of Commerce in 1976 and was a founding member of the Fall River Office of Economic Development in 1978, on which she remained active. She served as chairwoman of the United Way in the first year the local chapter of the nonprofit raised $1 million, in 1980.

Among many other roles she held and awards she received over the years, she served on the Fall River Regional Task Force, the Fall River Waterfront Partnership, the Greater Fall River Development Corporation, the Fall River Education Committee, and the Drop-Out Task Force of former Fall River Mayor Carlton Vivieros. She served as chair of the Business Roundtables and served as a member of the governing board of the Fall River Carousel.

Although she was most active during the 1970s and ‘80s and until her retirement from Lightolier in 1995, she continued to be a power player in the city’s business, education and political realm until the time she began struggling with illness earlier this year.

In fact, George, an administrative manager for Lightolier until her retirement, is credited by Phillips Lightolier’s president as lighting the way for his company to move its headquarters from New York to Fall River in 1994, bringing with it 200 high-level jobs. She’s also credited with persuading the company to construct its massive wind turbine in 2010.

She was also deeply dedicated to the city’s Lebanese community and its church she attended and her father founded, St. Anthony of the Desert Church, where a funeral Mass will be celebrated this morning at 10, after her funeral at 9 a.m. from Waring-Sullivan Home for Memorial Tribute at Cherry Place, 178 Winter St.

George had no children of her own, but leaves her extended family – and so many people in our community whose lives she touched. George helped provide for Fall River through her tireless advocacy and fundraising efforts that others followed.

Fall River is a much better city thanks to the many contributions of Loretta George. Her legacy lives on in many ways. She will be deeply missed. An appropriate way to pay tribute to her would be a memorial contribution to the foundation she helped found in 1980: Bristol Community College Foundation, 777 Elsbree St., Fall River MA 02720.

Email Michael Holtzman at mholtzman@herald.news