Henry George flips careers in midlife to follow his bliss


Henry George grew up in Palo Alto and then went to Colorado School of Mines to study geological engineering. After graduation, he moved to Arizona to work on aqueducts and water projects. (By then California had completed its Central Project and Arizona was planning a similar one.)

George worked for 30 years for a large construction firm building freeways, aqueducts, dams and airports, but he wanted to do something different.

He retired early and went back to school at Arizona State University to study anthropology/archaeology. Driven by questions on how cultures developed and what happened before history was written, he said he felt compelled to get the answers. After receiving a masters degree, he taught a class called “Buried Cities and Lost Tribes” at a Community College in Phoenix.

He moved to Del Mar in 2001, and lectures on archaeology and history at the Oasis Institute venues in Mission Valley and North County. He’s been married for 45 years to Alta, and the couple has three adult sons and two grandchildren.

What brought you to Del Mar?

We were Zonies for more than 30 years, so we came here to escape the heat and enjoy this paradise in the summers. In 2000, we were renting a condo on the beach and it was so nice here that we decided we did not want to go back. Driving around we saw a house under construction, fell in love with it, and bought it on the spot. We moved in the following summer when it was completed.

What makes this town special?

Good vibes. It just feels good to live here.

If I could snap my fingers what would I change here?

I would have wetter autumns to minimize the danger from seasonal fires. We witnessed two bad ones and were evacuated once.

Who inspires you?

Thomas Jefferson, the quintessential Renaissance Man. He could do many things well.

If you hosted a dinner for eight, whom would you invite?

Of course, Thomas Jefferson, and to have a lively discourse I would add Bill Clinton, Charlemagne (because of the Carolingian Renaissance), Luke the Physician (he interviewed and got eyewitness accounts of the beginnings of Christianity), Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Brian Fagan (a prolific archaeologist), and of course, my wife, Alta, who would be the hostess.

What are you reading currently?

“Freakonomics – A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” it was on the top of a high pile of other books that I have yet to read.

What is your most-prized possession?

My library of archaeology books (a constant research resource), my collection of classical music CDs, and my collection of college courses from the Teaching Co. The latter two make driving time here very productive.

What would be your dream vacation?

I have taken so many trips outside this country, that now I just appreciate living in a yearlong dream vacation right here in Del Mar.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

By far, my greatest accomplishment is co-rearing three sons who turned out to be people of good character and integrity.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Be humble. No matter what you accomplish, the minute you become arrogant, you will get shot down.