George M. Semeniuk, age 67, passed away on Friday, May 24, 2013 at Coventry Village in Madison, WI after a valiant fight with cancer.
George was born on May 24, 1946 in Ames, IA to George and Alexandra Semeniuk. He was a 1964 graduate of Brookings High School, Brookings, SD, University of Kansas and Duke University, where he received a PhD in Physical Chemistry. His lifetime career was in the Chemical Control Division of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC where he passionately believed in the control of toxic substances.
He enjoyed getting out of the city into the horse country of Northern Virginia where he was a long time member of the Loudon Hunt of Leesburg, VA. The many photographs he took reflect the joy he had in the sport of horsemanship and in the love of his family.
As a young man, George showed athletic prowess and was the 1964 South Dakota state champion in the track events of 100 and 220 yard dashes.
He was a devoted son, brother and uncle to many nieces and nephews and was loved for his kind and generous heart and his eagerness to be part of their lives.
George was pre-deceased by his father and is survived by his mother in Madison, two sisters, Sandy Keating (Oak Harbor, WA) and Shirley (Don) Wallace of Madison. He is also survived by five loving nieces and nephews, Scott (Anabel) Keating, Poulsbo, WA; Debbie (Dave) Keating Curran, Richland, WA, John (Nicole) Keating, Virginia Beach, VA, Peter (Joy) Keating, Oak Harbor, WA and Christine (Chuck) Wallace Schultz, Sun Prairie, WI and their families and many extended family and friends.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 405 7th Ave. Brookings, South Dakota at 11 AM on Saturday, July 6, 2013 with Reverend David Johnson presiding.
George Semeniuk was my hero back in the day when we were on the track team at Brookings High School in SD. He had a stellar work ethic and it paid off as he set several records in the 100 yard and 220 yard dashes. As two years George's junior, I would watch him leave the blocks and try to learn what he did that resulted in such great success.
I am very saddened to hear of George's passing and my sympathies are extended to George's friends and family.
[Cindy Kelly is submitting this on behalf of Sam Gusman who worked as a consultant to EPA on the inventory regulations under TSCA in 1976-77. Sam was an organic chemist with Rohm & Haas but had just retired early and joined our small team to put the regulations together.
Now in his late 80s, Sam was very sad to hear of George's death.]
Oh, my! I find it hard to imagine George other than as he was. So long ago -- I don't even want to know how long ago it was. And George dying? Well, what can be said other than sad indeed. In my book he was among the good people of the world. If you know his family, please add my name to the list of those who send condolences.
Our work together -- both of you, George, me -- was for good purpose and effective; I'm glad there's a legacy but the memory itself would suffice. The easy way we cooperated and made things happen was a pleasure. It was a special time.
George was a wonderful person, the salt of the earth. I have many memories of his great smile and infectious laugh. We worked very closely together on the first inventory regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act or "TSCA."
I have an indelible image of George lying on the floor in a white prayer shirt on a Saturday in the overly warm and stuffy offices of the East Tower at EPA. He was trying to work out the definition of a mixture vs. a chemical substance. He was very smart and extremely persistent in getting to the right answer.
As a person, he was incredibly warm and generous. In short, he was a wonderful colleague and friend! George left us far too early but the memory of his laughter will be with me always.
I was very sad to learn of George's passing. When I applied to work at EPA in 1990, he was one of the senior folk in the branch who interviewed me. We hit it off right from the start; it definitely didn't hurt that, purely by chance, I was wearing a tiny gold horse necklace on my interview day! He was a wonderful resource for a newbie, generous with his time and knowledge and always good for a laugh when things got hectic and tense. As I became a senior staffer in my turn, I blessed George for having been a mentor to me. Thank you, George! My condolences to your family.
I love the picture of George on the left side of this page because that is how I always think of him. Yes we worked together for over 30 years but mainly I liked to hang out and cook with George and drink wine and have a great joyous time together. He was a wonderful generous kind person and gone way too soon. My thoughts are with his family who I am sure are missing him terribly.
I had the pleasure of working with George for over 25 years at the Environmental Protection Agency. He was always enthusiastic and very dedicated to his work. More over he enjoyed the affection of his EPA colleagues. I will always remember George as a major player in the pioneering efforts to implement the Toxic Substances Control Act (which had recently been signed into law shortly before he came to EPA.) He played a key role in laying the groundwork for the chemical inventory which defined the scope of TSCA for addressing risks to health and the environment from 85,000 existing chemicals. The extra effort he put in often went way beyond the call of duty. He unhesitatingly put in long hours over many weeks without extra compensation. I am grateful for the many years of dedicated service George gave to EPA.
George also shared his love of horses with a few of us EPA colleagues by inviting us to an annual elaborate picnic spread he put on every Spring at a farm in BenVenue VA where the Old Dominion Point-to-Point horse races were run. George was always a very gracious host in good weather or bad. For me this first weekend in April event became an annual harbinger of spring that was eagerly anticipated. I will always remember George and that event as a joyful harbinger of Spring.
Through all the years of grade school, junior high and high school George and were "alphabetically" together. George always had a smile for everyone. I remember how good he was on the track and how hard he worked at it. When I get back to Brookings I drive around to find classmate's homes, including yours. RIP, George. Thank you for all your work for the betterment of the world!
We shared our homeroom experiences . . . Semeniuk and Sterud! I have fond memories of George and his kindness.
On Sunday after church my mom, Phyliis Bartling, shared with me the sad news of George's passing. Last Friday evening, May 24, I was in Brookings visiting my mom. I took my dog, Spike, for a walk. Routinely we head around the block where Crossers used to live and then toward 6th street. I am usually focused on getting my first view of Linda Distad's house on the far corner, but last Friday as I passed your old house it caught my eye. The realization came over me thatI hadn't looked at your house for a long time and I noticed that it is in better condition than many of the houses on that block. My eyes first went to the porch, then the front entry, and then the garage. My first thought as I saw the garage was that it seemed so much bigger when I was in grade school! George, Linda and I used to play hide and seek in the garage all the time!. Then I had this picture of what, if I remember correctly, was kind of an underground cellar to the left of the garage. I wanted to go investigate, but didn't as I could tell there were people home. As kids, Linda and I would run down there and George would shut the door on us. It was not a scary game....just a little bit frightening, which made it all that much more fun! As I was thinking about that memory, I had this vision of George pulling open the door and LInda and I rushing out! I hadn't thought about that for so many years. I do NOT think it is a coincidence that I should happen to have that memory on the evening of George's birth and passing! I also have fond memories of the many plays and musicals we had in your backyard!
I had forgotten about George's athletic abilities. My brother, Dick, had my friend and me do some interval work running on the track today at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, where I live. I did some speedwork this morning and although it was not even close to George's great races in '64, those laps are dedicated to George's memory.
Your family will always be a special part of my growing up years, especially Georgie, as I used to call him when we were little! Blessings to the rest of your family and my childhood friend, Georgie. I hope to see you when you are in Brookings.
Thank you Shirley for calling me and sharing the deeply sad news. George stays in my heart and my memory sitting on his horse with a big smile after having galloped over the fields and having jumped a big coupe. Over the last nearly twenty years we roamed together through the Virginia horse country of Loudoun - often really fast and George was typically in the lead. At the end we looked at each other exhausted very happy and he pulled a cold beer out of his car while we watched the horses to dry after being hosed down. We talked about family, politics, history and world affairs - George was intellectually very stimulating, extremely well read and keenly interested in life and politics. Sitting in his wonderful old and faithful Mercedes Benz while driving to Maintree Farm I learned so much from his insights and his curiosity. On his travel to Ukraine where he explored his family roots he visited me in Berlin and showed me the grave of his uncle who got killed there in WWII. Another memorable experience was his guided tour on horseback through the Gettysburg battlefields of America's civil war. History and personal relationships mingled, connected and transcended for George.
A very dear and warmly cherished friend has passed away - I want to thank George for giving so much.
His German rider friend Ina from Washington DC
(presently I am abroad but will share photos once I am back in DC)
Greetings to the family....I'm Howard Willson and was a 64 classmate with George. I lived 3 blocks east at 1112 6th. My wife, Carol (Kallemeyn) lived right next door to you. We've lived in Madison since 1968 . We were totally surprised to see the obit in the paper today. If we would only had known George was but a short drive away from us we would have been in contact. The small world thing...after the fact in this case. Carol returned yesterday from Lubbock, TX after visiting her sister and Shirley's BHS classmate down there.
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