HIGHTSTOWN, NJ - George Sims Wham, 97, a resident of Hightstown and East Windsor for 65 years, passed away in the comfort of his home on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. He was born in Laurens on Jan. 27, 1920 and raised in nearby Mountville. He was the middle child of seven.
After graduating ROTC from Clemson University in 1941, he served his country as a U.S. Army officer from 1941-46 during World War II and attained the rank of major. As C Company Commander, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, he was shot in the neck on July 8, 1944, during the early stage of the successful Allied/U.S. Army breakout near La Hayed du Paris, Normandy, France. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action "while leading his company's attack in the face of intense enemy artillery and machine gun fire." The accompanying citation continues: "Disdaining medical attention, Capt. Wham remained with his men and continued to lead the attack."
He was wounded again on Dec. 7, 1944 in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest near Kommerscheidt, Germany. This was an area the Germans were probing just prior to their attack to commence the Battle of the Bulge. He was subsequently awarded the Bronze Star.
For his combat injuries, he received the Purple Heart with bronze oak leaf cluster. Additional service medals included the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany clasp, Combat Infantryman Badge First Award and Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII. Notably, he was present and participated in the discovery and liberation of the Nazi concentration camp near Wobbelin. After receiving the surrender of major German forces at Schwerin in early May 1945, he served as economics officer in the U.S. Sector Military Occupation and Government at Karlsruhe into the fall of 1945. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army reserves in February 1953.
After the war, he completed a Master's Degree in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee in 1947 and then earned a PhD in Textile Chemistry from Penn State University in 1951. It was at the University of Tennessee where he met Beth Keeler, who was from Hightstown, New Jersey. They were married on Sept. 13, 1947.
He worked for the Hearst Corporation in New York City's Manhattan for 40 years, where he was vice president and technical director of the Good Housekeeping Magazine Institute. He and his co-workers were responsible for the technical evaluation and testing processes by which client companies earned the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for their consumer products. He was recognized as an international expert in consumer product performance, testing and safety standards.
He, while at Good Housekeeping, assumed leadership roles with the American Association Textile Chemists and Colorists (president, 1975-76, Harold C. Chapin award) and the American National Standards Institute (chairman, 1986-88; Board of Directors, 1978-88; Howard Coonley medal, 1985; George S. Wham Leadership medal, 1990; Consumer Council, chairman, 1985; U.S. Delegation Leader, International Standards Conferences, 1968, 1971, 1986, 1987; chairman, Textile Standards Board, 1966-68). He received a distinguished service award from Underwriters Laboratories for 20 years of service to the Consumer Advisory Council. He was also an advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Academy of Sciences and ASTM International. He was a guest lecturer at Purdue University, University of Maryland, Arizona State University, University of Connecticut, University of Delaware, Clemson University, University of Rhode Island and Michigan State University. He was a distinguished visiting professor at The University of North Carolina, 1987-1988.
He served locally on the Hightstown Town Council and the Hightstown School Board and was a member of the Coterie Literary and Lions Clubs.
He is predeceased by his parents, George S. and Nellie (Mellette) Wham and four siblings, James Mellette Wham, Norman Wayne Wham, Eleanor James and Betty Wackerhagen. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Beth Keeler Wham; his children, Brent Wham and wife, Janet, of Paoli, Pennsylvania, Bonnie Prutow and husband, David, of Waikoloa, Hawaii, and Barry Wham and wife, Liz, of Robbinsville, New Jersey; his grandchildren, Michael, Scott and wife, Colleen, Lauren McKenna and husband, Greg, Erin, Brad, Amy Geiger and husband, Marty, and Christy; his great-grandchildren, Zo , Avery and Finley; his siblings, Mary Wham James, of Sumter, and Robert Durant Wham of Pfafftown, North Carolina, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Interment will take place privately at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hightstown. A public memorial service will be held on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at 300 Etra Road, Hightstown, NJ, 08520 (in the Meadow Lakes Community).
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the Meadow Lakes Employee Education Fund, payable to Meadow Lakes Forum, with a memo denoting the Education Award Fund, 82 Meadow Lakes, Hightstown, NJ, 08520.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Glackin-Saul Funeral Home, 136 Morrison Ave., Hightstown, NJ, 08520.