George William Vallillee Sr., 93, died on October 7, 2020, in Okemos, Michigan. George was born on January 6, 1927, to George and Margaret (Tait) Vallillee in Washington, DC. He is survived by his wife Beverly, daughters Gail (Phil) Deschaine of Okemos and Jane (Mike) Scott of Midland, and his son George William Vallillee Jr. of Milwaukee, WI. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Brandon, Justin and Kevin Scott; Amanda and Jenelle Vallillee; and his step-grandchildren: Marianne and Phil Deschaine, and Elizabeth (Josh) Rychlinski. George spent his life in Battle Creek and graduated from Battle Creek Central High School in 1945. He was a lifelong member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church where he met “the love of his life,” Beverly Bailey. After the death of his father in 1946, he lovingly cared for his mother until her death in 1951. George served in the Army as a photographer during the Korean War in the Graves Registration Unit in Kyushu, Japan for which he received the Korean Service Medal, the US Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Utilizing the GI Bill, he went on to graduate from the New York School of Modern Photography.
During his 25 years as a photojournalist at the Battle Creek Enquirer and News, George completed an estimated 20,000 assignments, and his work was recognized several times by the Associated Press, the Michigan Press Photographers Association, and the Inland Daily Press Association through awards and photo contests. His range of photos was wide: from dogs and children to astronauts and Presidents. While at the paper, George developed a life-long friendship with fellow photographer, Eddie Adams. Eddie went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in photojournalism and founded the world renowned Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop. George believed in Eddie’s vision of a tuition free educational program for aspiring photojournalists.
In 1977 George established a successful commercial photography studio, Applied Photographics, Inc. in Battle Creek. His commercial clients included the Kellogg Foundation, Marshall Historical Society, and Eaton Corporation as well as many others. George and Beverly, with their dedicated assistant Alan Delach, ran the commercial studio until 2000 when George retired. George and Beverly were happily married for over 64 years and made their home on Christy Road where they raised their children and made many lifelong friends. They were also active members of the Neighborhood Planning Council, advocating for strong, safe neighborhoods and schools in Lakeview. George had a passion for travel. He traveled extensively in Asia during his service in the Korean War and across the US in his younger years. Although George’s newspaper and commercial photography were unparalleled, George’s family treasures most the beautiful and loving photographs he took of his family. His family will miss George’s wisecracking humor and the flash of his camera at future family gatherings. Visitation will take place at the Richard A. Henry Funeral Home on Wednesday, October 14, from 4 to 7 PM. The funeral service will be held on Thursday, October 15, at 12 PM at St. Thomas Episcopal Church followed by burial with military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery at 1:30 PM. Contributions can be made in George’s memory to St. Thomas Episcopal Church or the Eddie Adams Workshop, PO Box 488, Jeffersonville, NY 12748, c/o Alyssa Adams. Make checks payable to Eddie Adams Workshop Organization, Inc. www.henryfuneralhome.org
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St. Thomas Episcopal Church
16 E. Van Buren Street, Battle Creek MI 49017
Eddie Adams Workshop
P.O. Box 488, Jeffersonville NY 12748
c/o Alyssa Adams. Make checks payable to Eddie Adams Workshop Organization, Inc.