George Pfann, Jr.

Obituary of George Roberts Pfann, Jr.

George Roberts Pfann, Jr., born in 1932 in New York City, died April 12, 2021 in Ithaca, NY with his loving wife, Lana Hane Pfann, by his side. He is especially remembered for his compassion, sense of humor (puns included), intellect, integrity, and dedication to community. He spent many hours serving local community organizations, often quietly without drawing attention to his efforts. He cared for others, making time to help them out, and was loyal to his family, friends, and sports teams. He loved games of all kinds, often hosting parties with elaborate clue games, filling the air with laughter. In later years he took up dancing and "tripped the light fantastic" with Lana all over town, from chairing the dances at Kendal, bands at the park, and even down the walkways of the local mall. George will be missed by those who had the chance to know him and experience his generous spirit. George graduated from Ithaca High School in 1950, Cornell University in 1955, and Cornell Law School in 1959. He started his legal career with Sovocool & Sovocool, which, several iterations later, became part of Miller Mayer, LLP. Through the years, he co-founded an abstract corporation, and served as an assistant district attorney, acting city judge, attorney for the Tompkins County Hospital, county attorney, and president of the Tompkins County Bar Association. George became one of the most knowledgeable lawyers on Elder Law. He earned the respect and admiration of his clients and peers because of his deep knowledge of the law and his quiet dedication to others. George enjoyed mentoring younger associates and was appreciated for his patient and thorough teaching by those he mentored. His pro bono work was extensive due to his love for the people in his community and desire to serve them. He participated in the Ithaca and Cornell communities throughout his life including: Scoutmaster for two Boy Scout troops (one before he even had children) and many roles at the council level, his lifelong service was recognized by the Boy Scouts when they conferred upon him the Silver Beaver, the highest award for service to a council; he served in the US Army reserves where he retired as a captain; he was Secretary-Treasurer and President of the Chi Psi Alumni Corporation; Program Director and instructor of the NYS Judicial Conference; President of the Family & Children's Service Board of Directors; representative on the Board of Directors of the Special Children's Center; member of the Ithaca Board of Zoning Appeals; and President of the Board of Directors of the Tompkins County Alcoholism Council. George was also known for his love of sports. He played sports in high school and college. He coached Cornell freshmen lacrosse (8 years) and Cornell freshmen football (17 years), Little League baseball, and youth soccer. As a fan, George attended Ithaca High School football and lacrosse games, was a season ticket holder for Cornell football and basketball as well as a regular at lacrosse games no matter the weather. His kids would go to sleep listening to Yankee games on the radio and he gave his eldest grandchild her first lacrosse stick at age 2. George's religious life was centered at the First Congregational Church of Ithaca, joining in 1954. He was a volunteer for over 50 years, holding many positions, most notably serving on the Board of Trustees and overseeing ushering. He even earned the title of "Father Goose" because he arrived early to church and took care of all the young children whose parents were rehearsing with the choir. He was predeceased by his parents, George R. Pfann and Betty Wyckoff Pfann Balderston; his stepparents, Louise Raney Pfann and Eugene Balderston; and his parents-in-law Charles Hane and Gertrude Congdon Hane. He is survived by his wife, Lana, of 58 years; his children, Kerstin Pfann (Greg Heinzinger) and Karl (Michelle) Pfann; and his four grandchildren Cassandra, Talia, Kieran, and Colton. He is also survived by his brother, Bruce (Kathy) Pfann; his sister- and brother- in law Verna and Richard Wright, as well as a number of cousins, nieces, and nephews. A COVID-safe memorial service will be held the first weekend in June at the First Congregational Church of Ithaca. If you are interested in attending please email GPFANNmemorialRSVP@gmail.com (or call 858-259-3187), and we will let you know the COVID-requirements and how we will manage the service closer to the date. George will be interred next to the Wyckoff Mausoleum at Lakeview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to make contributions could consider donations in his honor to the Boy Scouts of Baden-Powell Council, Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County, or The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
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