CLARKSVILLE, Va. -- A Virginia man who was inspired by his father, who was born into slavery, and loved his rural Mecklenburg County small town has passed away at the age of 101 years old.
George Sizemore from Buffalo Junction died Tuesday night, according to his family.
Greg McQuade featured Mr. Sizemore in an "I Have A Story" feature shortly after his 101st birthday in January.
“I love being where I am from and who I am,” Mr. Sizemore said in January. “I think it is the most beautiful life that a man can live, to be born into the country.”
The WWII veteran who fought in Battle of the Bulge married his sweetheart, Laura May, after the war.
“She was the most beautiful woman in the world,” he Sizemore said of his wife, who passed away in 2007.
Mr. Sizemore also endured a deeply segregated south, but never let it define him.
“If I can’t come to your house why should anyone want to knock on your door,” he said. “You can’t two wrongs and make it right. You’ve got to let that go.”
Mr. Sizemore, who retired from his construction job at the age of 93, credited his longevity to hard work, strong faith and good genes.
Mr. Sizemore's family and friends gathered for his funeral on Saturday.
Father 'never spoke' of slavery, Virginia man says
His father, Benjamin Sizemore, was a mountain of a man, who could lift anything, Sizemore recalled.
"He was 6 feet 6 inches tall and 290 pounds," he said.
But Benjamin made quite an impression. Not just because of his stature, but his story: Mr. Sizemore's father was born into bondage in 1858.
“He couldn’t read or write,” Sizemore said.
Big Ben found freedom from slavery at the end of the Civil War when his son was seven years old.
As an adult, Benjamin married, farmed, and bought land.
His son entered the world when Big Ben was 61.
“Most people wonder why people my age that my dad could be a slave,” Sizemore said.
Growing up he admired his father for never a holding grudge.
“He never spoke of it,” Sizemore said.
Benjamin passed away in 1931 when George was 13 years old.
Ninety years later his dad remained an inspiration.
“[I] wanted to be like him but I didn’t see how I could be that good,” Sizemore said.
The historical significance of being one of the nation’s last living children of a slave was not lost on the centenarian.
“Oftentimes I thought about how he overcame something like that,” Sizemore said.
Mr. Sizemore's story is detailed in the book “Uncle George and Me” written by Bill Sizemore.