George Salo Stern passed away at age 77 on July 2, 2014. George was a prominent family law attorney, active community leader and philanthropist, mentor, scholar, world traveler, sports fanatic, husband, father, Opa and friend to all. In spite of all he accomplished and did for others, when asked what life was all about, he would answer with two words: family and faith. George was born in Brussels, Belgium on February 16, 1937, the son of Blanche and Albert Stern. In May 1940, his parents left Brussels because the Nazis bombed and attacked the country. Thus began the long journey of 13 months through Europe and Cuba until he and his family arrived in Nashville, Tennessee in June of 1941.
George attended school in Nashville and graduated high school in 1955. While in high school, George was an award-winning national debater. He was also very active in the Jewish community and held offices in various organizations, including being National Vice President from the South of Young Judaea, the national Zionist youth movement. In 1954, he was the recipient of the Ralph Sheppard award for outstanding young leadership in the Nashville Jewish community. In 1953, George began his long history and love of Jewish camping, working at the Jewish Community Center camp in Nashville, Camp Belle Aire, Camp Blue Star and Camp Judaea. It was at Camp Blue Star that George met Eva Prager, another German refugee, who became his wife on September 4, 1960. George and Eva were happily married until November 10, 2000 when Eva sadly passed away from ovarian cancer.
While George spent his summers camping, he spent his post high school years at Vanderbilt University. He obtained his BA degree in 1959 and his Juris Doctorate in 1961 from Vanderbilt Law School, where he received numerous honors. In 1961 George became the Southern Director of Young Judaea and the Director of Camp Judaea which required him and Eva to move to Atlanta, Georgia. He was co-founder of the present location of Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina. After running Camp Judea for two years, George (as nudged by his wife and father) decided it was time to begin his law career.
George practiced law in Atlanta for 50 years, most of which specializing in family law in the practice he founded, Stern and Edlin. From 1998-1999, he was the National President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a group composed of the 1500 best family lawyers in America. He was the Treasurer of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers from 1991 to 2012 and was the founder of the U.S.A. chapter of the organization. In 2011, he was presented with the organization’s President’s Medal for his significant contribution to the Academy and to the practice of international family law. He has also been a member of the board of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association. He was one of only 100 members of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers and he has been included in the “Best Lawyers in America” for over 15 years and, since its inception, has been continually listed as a Georgia Super Lawyer in Atlanta Magazine. In 2012, George received The Jack P. Turner Award from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia for his outstanding contribution and achievement in the area of family law for the past 50 years. Most recently, the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers created the George S. Stern Achievement Award and honored him as the first recipient of the award that will recognize the recipient’s accomplishments in the practice of family law and will carry his name for years to come.
While George had an incredible prowess as a family trial attorney, as evidenced by his numerous recognitions, he never recounted war stories or bragged about his accomplishments. What set him apart was all that he had done to improve the practice of law and to mentor young lawyers along the way, through his teaching and compassion for the profession. Like everything else he did, he practiced law with his heart, wanting to accomplish the right outcome for all parties involved.
In addition to his stellar career as an attorney, George was very active in the Jewish community ever since his high school years. He chaired numerous committees at The Marcus Jewish Community Center and was President from 1981-83. For over 20 years he was Chairman of the Leadership Development Committee of the Center and, in 2007, he won the Erwin Zaban Bridge Building Award. He served on the board of Temple Sinai, where he was a founding member, and as a Vice President up until this year. He also served on the board and as a Vice President of The Amit Program and supported the organization from its inception to its unfortunate conclusion. In addition, George served on the Board of the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum until the time of his death, where he was also a speaker at the Museum teaching children from all over the Southeast about the nightmares he and others like him ensued during World War II.
George Stern was a man of immense faith and love. He laid Tefillin everyday since he became a Bar Mitzvah (no matter where in the world he was) and he was always observant of his Jewish traditions and beliefs (as exemplified by his passionate singing of prayers during religious services). Following his beloved Eva’s passing, he was fortunate to find love again. George married Margie Okun on February 17, 2006. Perhaps his greatest gift was to pass his love of life and Judaism to his family.
George will be missed dearly by his children Michelle and Gary Simon, Carla and Greg Malever and Jason and Karinne Stern; his grandchildren Aaron, Kyle and Michael Simon, Rebecca and Eric Malever, and Ty, Evie and Maya Stern; and by his wife Margie Stern; her children Jay Sausmer and Allison Sausmer Horrobin; and her grandchildren Daphne, Jacob and Adam Sausmer. An online guestbook is available at www.edressler.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Weinstein Hospice, The Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum or The Marcus Jewish Community Center. Funeral services were held at11 a.m. on Sunday, July 6, 2014 at Temple Sinai and were streamed on-line at www.templesinaiatlanta.org. A private interment followed. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.