George Cares was born on October 31st, 1925, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He founded Sheldon Dry Cleaners, starting with a single store in 1949, and steadily building his company which today ranks among the largest of its kind in the nation. During the Second World War, George served with distinction in the United States Naval Aviation V5 and V12 programs while attending college at Milligan College, Tennessee, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a cadet George achieved the rare distinction of scoring 100% in the U.S. Navy’s rigorous strength test competition, shattering all previous records. He recognized the importance of exercise and fitness long before it became a national lifestyle and followed his personal exercise regime throughout his life, setting the example for his children. Once he hand built an innovative tree house that won national recognition in Parade Magazine. Accessible only by climbing a rope, the tree house was intended to strengthen his five children and initiated a lifelong path to their physical agility and fitness. In business he continually evolved and expanded his ideas pushing the parameters for excellence beyond conventional standards. He was a pioneer in equality for all. Once a reporter described him as a “Maverick” to which he replied, “I like it.” As a Freemason he earned the coveted ring of the 32nd Degree, which he proudly wore up to his last day. His wife, Hope, was the love of his life, his sweetheart and steadfast companion. Together they shared a 67-year marriage raising five children in a home filled with creativity, positive energy and mirth. Of all the various roles he embraced throughout his energetic life, it was being a father and grandfather that was his joyful passion. He died on June 15, 2017 in Grand Rapids, leaving the world better than he found it. He is survived by his wife, Hope (Pappadopoulos); children Linda (Christer) Wilkinson, Sandy Cares, Paul (Kim Brewer) Cares, Martha (Fritz) Olsen, Louis (Nora) Cares; grandchildren, Zoe, Ava and George “Geo” Cares; sister Sophie Sinigos; nephew, Louis (Cheryl) Sinigos; sister-in-law Martha (John) Jefferson, and nephew Michael (Tricia) Jefferson.
A private memorial was held for the family at O’Brien Eggebeen-Gerst Chapel.