Prominent local writer George Shirk dies at 64
Writer, father and friend, George Shirk died of aheart attack on Thursday, December 8. The 64-year old had officially retired after approximately six years with the Mammoth Times, but couldn’t pull himself away from the keyboard and was still contributing up until his passing.
Niko Connolly of the Mammoth Times said George was working on a piece about a guy that was chainsawing a path down the side of a local slope, but was only working during snowstorms so no one could hear him.
People get to know a small-town reporter; they’re at every event and meeting. George was no exception. He was easy to find, when he wasn’t skiing. George had a penchant for eccentric head gear, hats and lids like the homburg, made popular by Winston Churchill.
Richard Shirk, George’s son, described his dad as the “town character, the Mayor of Mammoth.” He said he’d come up to visit his dad and everywhere they went people knew him. Even the doctor at Mammoth Hospital who tended to George after his heart attack before he was flown to Bakersfield, told Richard he knew George.
George was the quintessential old school journalist. He took notes with a pen and note pad, and wanted to know more than just the facts and details about a story. He wanted to know everything there was to know about a subject.
Former Mono County Supervisor Byng Hunt said in an email, “He was one of only a few local reporter/journalists that I actually looked forward to seeing at meetings. He was fair and honest, and funny.”
Dan Watson, Mammoth Lakes Police Chief from 2010-14, called George “a real throwback, like a character out of a movie.” Watson also crowned George the elder statesman of journalism in Mammoth. Watson and George talked sports because no one in the Times newsroom knew the lingo.
Shirk started writing in his native Iowa for the Des Moines Register and Tribune and later the Philadelphia Inquirer as a sports writer covering the classic 1983 76ers championship season featuring Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Moses Malone.