Obit

George Obolensky

Greenville, SC – George Obolensky, 89, of Greenville, SC, died Monday, January 4, 2021. George lived in Asheville with his wife Ruth, before moving to Greenville several years before his death.

George was born in Paris, France on August 24, 1931, the son of Prince Paul Ivanovich Obolensky of Saint Petersburg, Russia, and of Alexandra Michailovna de Galsleben of Kiev, Russia. 

Prince Paul Obolensky, from a family of ancient lineage, fought the Communists in the Russian Civil War and had to flee for his life, as did his spouse to be. They met and married in Paris, where their son was baptized as Yuri. 

The family moved from Paris to Wiesbaden, Germany in 1936 to assume ownership of a home bequeathed to them by a close relative. Shortly after arrival, George’s mother died and therefore a loving Father raised George and his sister through the WWII years, destruction of their home in an air-raid, and as a “stateless person” (i.e. without legal nationality) during the Nazi regime. 

Fortunately, George’s father was successful in obtaining (from the American Occupying Authorities) a “Military Exit Permit” for George and Irene to immigrate to America after the war. 

After serving in the Army, he entered New York University in 1954, graduating in three years, “summa cum laude”, with a BS in Economics. Two years of study at Harvard, in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, followed. 

He accepted an offer from Shell Oil Company, NYC, in 1960 and a year later, he married Ruth Wood, who was from Australia and was working as a teacher trainer for the first Montessori School in the States. 

When he retired after 31 years, he had advanced through 16 jobs in Shell to Assistant Treasurer, Cash Management and Insurance. 

In the meantime, he and his wife Ruth built a family with three daughters. The family grew further as each of his daughters had a son, who all became his beloved grandsons. 

In retirement George remained busy: at first serving as an expert witness (not much fun), carving and painting song birds, translating Pushkin from the original Russian, writing “ditties” for his friends and family, and teaching English as a Second Language to classes of Russian-speaking immigrants (much fun). He was particularly proud to be named a “Hometown Hero” by the Asheville Citizen-Times for his work teaching English. 

George is survived by his three daughters, Kira Obolensky (Irve Dell), Elise Obolensky (Dan Hayes), and Masha Obolensky (Brett Cramp); and three grandchildren, Isaac, Milo and Theo. 

George Obolensky will be buried privately at his wife’s side at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, NC. A public memorial service will be held at a later date. 

Memorials to St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church at www.stjohnoftheladder.org; the Greenville Symphony at www.greenvillesymphony.org; or to the Literacy Council of Buncombe County at www.litcouncil.com.