On Friday, December 3, 2021, George Balamaci, of Bethesda, Maryland, passed away peacefully at age 91.
George was born and raised in New York City. He was a passionate man who had a variety of interests.
A tennis aficionado for 35 years, you could find him on the courts on almost any given day. He was an avid weather amateur, a classics movie buff, a jazz enthusiast, and a sports and news reporter who worked for American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), both as a Navy and civilian serviceman from 1951 to 1995, when he retired.
George exemplified that of a wonderfully warm and down-to-earth personality with a humor and zest for life who inspired all those who knew him.
George’s interest in radio broadcasting became a reality when he applied for a position at WGBY, a short-staffed radio station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after he had enlisted in the Navy in early 1951. For the next two years he broadcasted sports and news to the soldiers in Korea while attending the Journalism Institute there. Following that he went on to become the voice of Armed Forces Radio in New York, while attending the Radio School of NYC, and then Los Angeles. George’s love of radio was very evident in his retelling of his experiences.
Unlike many historians, his story has been well documented by the countless hours he spent “on air” delivering the news. His contribution was significant to many soldiers who relied on his voice to keep them in touch with “home.” The myriad of letters received over time from servicemen around the world was so appreciated by the staff at AFRTS.
Following George’s departure from Guantanamo Bay, he left the Navy to work at radio stations in Colorado, Florida and New York. Soon thereafter he received an offer of a position in sports from AFRTS in New York. He spent many nights broadcasting live games from Madison Square Garden’s arena. George contributed his success in his radio and television career to his experiences at Guantanamo Bay. He said he had been fascinated by radio as a young boy, but it was here where he really began his career. In addition to his radio shows, he also was a sports stringer, contributing a weekly sports column for the base paper. (Many changes greeted George in 1985, when he was invited to return to Guantanamo Bay to celebrate the 30th anniversary Open House at TV-8.)
In 1966, AFRTS left a small staff in New York and relocated their offices to Rosslyn, VA, to the Lynn Building, the very first of many high rises to begin the hustle and bustle of this close-in suburb to Washington, DC. It was here where George now began his administrative position as Chief of News and Sports for AFRTS. In 1980, AFRTS consolidated their New York and Rosslyn offices and relocated to Los Angeles where it is home today.
George remained in California until 2016, when he returned to Bethesda, to join his family.
He is survived by his beloved children, Susan Balamaci (Dan Simons) and son, Marc Balamaci. Also surviving are his five beloved grandsons, Cooper Simons, Cameron Balamaci, Oliver Simons, Reece Balamaci and Finnley Simons, all of Garrett Park and Potomac, MD. Two sisters, Jennie Lupie, of New York City, and Helen Pariza, of Myrtle Beach, SC, also survive him. He leaves his former wife and dear lifetime friend, Karen Balamaci, of Bethesda, MD.
In loving memory of George Balamaci
March 20, 1930 – December 3, 2021
- This discussion was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by elissa mondschein.
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