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Ross Community and Class of 2004 Mourn Loss of Maj. Jason E. George

5/29/2009 --

Friends remember fallen soldier as a natural leader who was both hilarious and kind.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Ross community is mourning the loss of Maj. Jason E. George, MBA '04, who was killed in action in Iraq May 21. George was on foot patrol in Baghdad's Dora district when a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device that killed three American soldiers along with at least 25 Iraqi civilians. George was 38 years old.

A graduate of West Point, George served in the U.S. Army for eight years before entering Ross and earning his MBA. After graduation, he worked in the Chicago office of Deloitte Consulting in the strategy and operations practice and the life sciences and healthcare industry group. He was an Army Reservist assigned to the 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, Fayetteville, N.C., and was called back into active duty this spring. He flew into Kuwait April 22, and arrived in Baghdad on May 5.

George is survived by his parents, Hugh and Candy Mason, who live in Tehachapi, Calif., near Bakersfield. And though he was an only child, it is clear George created a huge and loving b-school family during his time in Ann Arbor. Known affectionately on campus as "JG" or "the Tank," he is described by those who knew him as hilarious, adventurous, loyal, and kind. He had a gravitational pull that drew people to him, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. And he was an Eagle Scout who loved Ford cars and Michigan football. But what was perhaps less well understood was George's sense of duty and honor, says Kelly Tubbs Campbell, MBA '04.

"This was the quality that I admired most about him," she says. "He had a sense of service to causes greater than himself and he was not afraid to fight for those causes. In fact, he died fighting for one of those causes and we are forever in his debt as a result. It was this courage that I loved about him."

George also was exceptionally talented and driven, Campbell says. In addition to graduating from West Point, he completed U.S. Army Ranger School and was a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Army Armor Officers Advanced Course. He was a skilled athlete who played rugby, tennis, baseball, soccer, and basketball -- and was an undefeated boxer at West Point. Clearly a people person, he was an admissions ambassador for Ross as both a student and alumnus, served as fundraising chair for the Ross School's Go Blue Rendezvous weekend for admitted students, and was a board member of the 2004 Graduate Business Conference. At Deloitte, he served as the team lead for MBA recruiting.

"He was always the guy that I bragged about when people asked me what I thought of my business school classmates," says Tej Shah, MBA '04. "I always said they were the most intelligent, accomplished, and driven people I've known who, at the same time, were humble, fun-loving, and incredibly social. Jason epitomized the [Ross] student in my mind."

Andrew Margie, MBA '04, was a member of Section 4, which selected George as its leader early in the Ross experience. "During orientation, our section pride was at stake," Margie recalls. "Jason transformed our crew of awkward strangers into a raucous and frenzied column of chanting and screaming lunatic MBAs. I remember him running up and down this collection of new friends, pumping us up, screaming at the top of his lungs, and pointing the way forward. The undergrads were so confused. Jason was a presence wherever he went and he was absolutely unafraid of life."

George also was unafraid of playing the fool. He was a particularly big presence during the 2004 Follies, the annual b-school variety show that closes the year with skits and send-ups of the Ross experience. George played the legendary general Hannibal -- in his own unique way.

"I distinctly remember being in Follies with him, getting ready backstage, and loving the fact that here he was, about to go on stage playing Hannibal -- very apropos -- in an ĎA-Team' skit, getting women's makeup put on by our fellow actresses," says Jeff Ngo, MBA '05. "It didn't matter that we looked like clowns afterwards, literally. We were there to put on a show. And did he ever put on a show, bringing down the house on consecutive nights."

George was known to bring down the house offstage, as well. When he attended classmate Shah's traditional Indian wedding -- complete with big guest list, loud music, and lots of dancing -- he was not content to quietly observe from the sidelines. "JG was in the heart of it all, trying to dance like my Indian family and friends in spite of having no clue what he was doing," Shah says. "That's just how he was. No matter where he was or what the conditions, you could count on him to bring life to the party."

But for all his gregariousness and good nature, George will be remembered most by his classmates as a leader, a genuinely good person with the softest, kindest heart, and a man of his word who maintained true and lasting friendships.

Two of those friends are MBA classmates Doug McCracken and Beth Paul who led an M-Trek with George during their time at Ross. McCracken has a photo from that trip that is made all the more poignant by George's tragic and premature passing.

"I particularly like the one where he is holding the Michigan flag at the top of the hill," McCracken says. "I think it is really a testament to his leadership both at Ross and in life. No hill was too high for JG to scale -- and he brought all of his friends with him, always with a smile."

George will be interred at the Bakersfield National Cemetery in California. Condolences may be sent via an online guest book.

—Deborah Holdship



For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847, bernied@umich.edu