George T. Faris, IV, a Vermont attorney since 1978 and Chair of the Shelburne Planning Commission for 14 years died on Jan. 9, 2013, of metastatic melanoma. He was 64 years old. George began his legal career in St. Johnsbury, Vt., with the law firm of Downs Rachlin and Martin. Subsequently, he became District Counsel for the U.S. Small Business Administration and was appointed Special Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Vermont to prosecute all SBA litigation. In 1985, George returned to private practice and joined Hoff, Wilson, Powell & Lang led by the former Governor of Vermont Phil Hoff. Almost immediately George became lead counsel in a number of the largest loan workout and bankruptcy proceedings in Vermont representing Vermont National Bank (now Citizens Bank), Howard Bank (now TD Bank), Bank of NY, and GMAC, among others. After Phil Hoff’s departure in 1989, the firm was renamed Wilson Powell Lang & Faris and in addition to his law practice responsibilities, George assumed the management of the firm. In 1997, George fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a Vermont country lawyer and opened his own law practice in Shelburne, Vt., where he and his family had resided since 1985. George continued to specialize in business and real estate transactions, and also had the opportunity to focus on land use and environmental issues.
George lived his life as a lawyer and city planner. His true passion was giving back to society and looking for ways to make improvements in the community. He was appointed to the Shelburne Planning Commission in 1986 and served as chair of the Shelburne Planning Commission from 1988 to 2002, when he was elected as a member of the Selectboard for the Town of Shelburne. From 1998-2002, George also served on the Regional Planning Commission of Chittenden County, and was chair of the committee that prepared the first rewrite of the Chittenden County Regional Plan in 10 years. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Vermont Association for Business Industry and Rehabilitation and for the Burlington Business Association. George enjoyed boating and skiing, both of which he shared with his wife and sons. George was an active member of the Lake Champlain Yacht Club where he served on the membership committee and participated in sailboat races on weekends and Wednesday evenings. However, after years of fickle wind, George traded his sailboat for a Formula which to the pleasure of his then teenage sons could be used for water skiing and tubing. Upon returning to the Philadelphia area, George and his family joined The Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia where he enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow sailors and trap shooters, and recently was chair of the Docks and Moorings Committee. He learned about open-water sailing, and would often help friends bring their sailing yachts to and from New England. Once the first snow fell and the mountains opened, George could be found skiing the Front Four in Stowe or on the trails at Sugarbush. Some of his happiest memories were the times he and his family went to Vail. It was during those trips that he realized he could no longer keep up with his young sons but he was so proud of their skiing achievements. In 2007, the family relocated to Collegeville, Pa. George missed Vermont, but enjoyed returning home to the Philadelphia area. George was born in Abington, Pa. and raised in Glenside, Pa. He graduated from Abington Senior High School and from Amherst College. George entered Vermont Law School where he was a member of the Vermont Law Review and served as a research assistant to the late Professor Norman Williams,former general counsel to the New York City Planning Commission. At the suggestion of Professor Williams, George created an innovative joint degree program in law and city planning between Vermont Law School, and the Law School and School of City and Regional Planning of the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, George was a contributing editor of the quarterly newsletter for the American Institute of Planners and served as a research assistant to Professor John C. Keene, a renowned scholar on environmental planning and management of urban growth. In 1978, he was awarded his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Vermont Law School, and his Master of City Planning from Penn. In 1981, George completed a program at Harvard Law School’s Harvard Negotiation Institute on negotiation, bankruptcy, and public policy. George was the beloved husband of Christine (Alexandrides) of 30 years, and the proud father of Peter, Alexander, and Andrew. In 2011, George became a loving grandfather to Declan Faris (son of Peter). He was the eldest sibling of Mary Rachel (Dr. John Redmond), Charles (Maureen), Scott, and Samuel (Kim). He was predeceased by his parents, Dr. Samuel Sheets II and Mary (Dolan) Faris, and his brother Davidson. He leaves behind many dear nieces, nephews, and cousins. A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Shelburne, Vt., on Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 11 am, followed by interment. In lieu of flowers, contributions in remembrance of George may be made to the Rosenfeld Cancer Center of Abington Memorial Hospital, 1200 Old York Road, Abington, PA. 19001.