George's Story

ORONO - George Joseph Gonyar, 87, died March 8, 2015 at his home in Orono. He was born May 26, 1927 in Orono, son of George Augustus and Ida (Doucette) Gonyar.

He lived in Orono all of his life, except for stints in the Navy at the end of WWII and in the Army during the Korean War. George graduated from Orono High School in 1945, attended the Naval Academy Prep School in 1946, and graduated from the University of Maine, class of 1950 with degrees in History and Speech. His career in broadcasting lasted 43 years and he worked at WABI Radio as Staff announcer and Sports Director in 1947 while in college before TV. He pioneered in TV when WABI-TV (Ch5) went on the air in 1953, which was the first TV station licensed north of Boston. George worked as an announcer, sports play-by-play, director, producer, program manager, director of operations, and for the last 15 years of his career, he served as Vice President and General Manager of WABI Radio and Television in Bangor. During that time, Channel 5 moved from Copeland Mountain to Hampden Studios, and in 1962 to the present Studio City location on Outer Hammond Street in Bangor. George was deeply involved, along with many others, in the growth and development of Maine's first TV station under the leadership of owner Horace Hildreth and Walter Dickson, his boss and his best friend.

George was a member of the Board of Directors of the Maine Association of Broadcasters (President '83 and '84); Unity College ('70-'78); Greater Bangor Chamber of Commerce (Chairman 1991); St. Joseph Hospital Strauss Board (present Chair-2006); Orono Town Council ('91-'97 - Chairman for four years); New England School of Broadcasting Advisory Board; St. Mary's Parish Council ('69-'71 Chair); UMO M Club; UMO Radio Guild ('47-'50 - Mr. University spokesman); UMO Masque Theater ('46-'50); Orono-Old Town Kiwanis Club (President and Lt. Governor); Joseph Orono K of C (Grand Knight and District Deputy); United Way Board; Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity; and many other ad hoc committees in a wide range of activities. George was the recipient of numerous special honors including University of Maine Radio Guild "Mr. University" ('48-'50), The Norbert X Dow Award in 1994 from the Bangor Chamber of Commerce, Broadcaster of the Year in 1987 from the Maine Broadcasters Association, Achievement Award in 1991 from the Maine Council of Churches, Legion of Honor in 2001 and Hixson Award in 2005 from the Orono-Old Town Kiwanis Club.

George's first passion was for his wife of 32 years, Sharon. Sharon was working for WLBZ-TV when they met, and George always said, "If you can't beat them, join them", and that's what Sharon did when she was hired as WABI's National Sales Manager in 2001. George retired from broadcasting in 1991 after 43 years, with his oft repeated admonition, "I never had a day when I didn't want to go to work". His other passions were his six children, his grandchildren and his interest in sports. He pushed his children into sports which he felt would help them avoid trouble. George would proudly tell you that it worked. He was a lifelong devoted fan of the Red Sox, the Patriots, and the Celtics, along with Orono High School and the University of Maine.

Surviving are his wife, Sharon Gonyar of Orono; his daughter, Deborah Flint and her husband, Robert of North Berwick; four sons, Gary Gonyar and his wife, Nonnie of Orrington, Robert Gonyar and his wife, Alice of Williston, VT, David Gonyar of Bangor and Brian Gonyar of Clifton; a stepdaughter, Joanie Gay of Lewes, DE; grandchildren, Chris Gonyar and Kaylie Bufano, Joan Doyle and David Flint, Bryan, Mark and Michael Gonyar, Ryan, Ben and Allison Gonyar; step grandchildren, Derek, Brandon and Alexandra Gay; 8 great-grandchildren and one more on the way; a sister, Lorraine Comeau of South Windsor, CT; a brother, Philip Gonyar and his partner, Carl Daiker of Waterville; many nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are welcome to call 2 to 4pm and 6 to 8pm Friday March 13, 2015 at the Orono Chapel of Brookings-Smith, 72 Main Street, Orono. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10am Saturday, March 14, 2015 at the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Family Parish, 429 Main Street, Old Town with the Very Rev. Wilfred Labbe, celebrant. Spring interment will be in the Riverside Cemetery, Orono. The family invites relatives and friends to share conversation and refreshments in the parish hall immediately following the Mass Saturday. Those who wish to remember George in a special way may make gifts in his memory to the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, 429 Main Street, Old Town, ME 04468 or a charity of one's choice. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.
Bangor Daily News
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