Dr. George L. Juler lived in Seal Beach for 62 years. He was a surgeon, an international humanitarian and an advocate and supporter of U.S. veterans. And he was a fixture along Main Street in Seal Beach.
Always a dapper dresser, he was known for always wearing a tie, his head of wavy gray hair and for many years his dog, “Smoke,” or “Smokey Bear,” who often accompanied him around town.
“People at Bay Hardware, the Frame Shop, CVS, Vons, and the cleaners all knew George very well, and they loved the dapper dresser who always wore a big smile,” his son Ron Juler said.
In recent years, George spent his time in care facilities, before passing on Dec. 12, 2020. He was just shy of 98 years old, having been born on March 13, 1924, in Visalia, California.
George graduated from Loma Linda University Medical School in 1952. He spent five years as a Seventh Day Adventist medical missionary living in Ubol, Thailand, running a mission hospital, setting up outdoor clinics in rural villages, and driving a Jeep to treat local villagers with modern medicines.
In 1958, he returned to the U.S. to take a surgical residency at the Long Beach VA Hospital. Upon completion of the residency, he joined the staff and became Chief of General Surgery, a position he held until retirement in 1994.
In 2014, George was honored by Loma Linda University as an Honored Alumnus. According to a video tribute, by the time of his retirement, George had trained more than 450 young surgeons. His time at the VA also allowed him to develop friendships with many veterans. Among them were fighter pilots. One of those close friendships was with Fighter Ace, Major Robert M. Barkey, of the 325th Checker Tail Clan.
His friendship with Barkey led to George joining and eventually becoming President of the Southern California Chapter of the Friends of the American Fighter Aces Association (AFAA). The group would arrange talks by pilots, who shared their experiences with groups.
These experiences led to George becoming a collector of fine art prints of WWII era fighter planes and battle scenes. He had taken an interest in the stories behind the prints due to his friendship with some of the pilots who had engaged in the air battles. And it was the prints that he took to the former frame shop owned by current Seal Beach Mayor Joe Kalmick.
“When he [George] came to the shop with a new print to frame we were not only selecting the best frame and mat design, but we would spend at least half an hour going over what battle the print was depicting, who the pilots on both sides were, the various insignia markings, and the outcome of the dog fight,” Kalmick said.
For George, studying and learning were like a hobby. He loved to learn, though he did take up motorcycle riding in the ‘70s. He also loved to travel around the country. In his later years, working on the New York Times crossword puzzle was a daily routine.
George is survived by his son, Ron, daughters, Nancye and Andreia and wife Margaret.