George David Caras passed away peacefully on Friday, April 7, 2017, at 93 years old. He was a true Missoulian, having been born here in 1924 and raised in the Orchard Homes surrounded by the family business, Garden City Floral, which he ended up owning for over sixty years. He was the youngest of four children born a total of four years apart to a driven and charismatic Greek immigrant father and an empathetic and loving mother. He graduated from Hawthorne grade school and Missoula County High School and had started at the University of Montana when World War II broke out. In response, at age 19, he joined the navy and ended up operating a small supply ship in the Pacific theater. At the end of the war he landed in China which he revisited when it reopened for tourism in the seventies.
His time on the high seas further cemented his love of being on the water which had developed in the summers of the 1920s and 1930s on Holland and Flathead lakes. He and his wife Louise were involved in hydroplane racing throughout the northwest for years and also operated a jet boat dealership on the side. Before it became widely popular George took up river floating and, over the decades, organized scores of trips in and out of the Missoula area.
George was blessed with a quick wit, incisive mind and handsome features. The Missoulian once called him “the Joe Namath of Missoula.” He was also a great storyteller and loved to recount tales from his youth, the war, his extensive travels and countless other personal experiences. He had many personal and professional accomplishments and was heavily involved in the community and the university. He possessed a Rolodex full of friends to call for poker nights, get togethers and outdoor adventures.
Far and away, though, the two most important things in his life were his wife Louise and daughter Laurie who ran Garden City Floral with him for thirty years. Laurie passed away in 2004 and Louise in 2015. The loss of his beloved daughter was particularly difficult for George but his unfailing optimism helped him through it. This was, perhaps, George’s greatest attribute. Throughout his life he demonstrated that a positive outlook not only gets one through adversity but also leads to a successful and happy time on earth.
George is survived by his devoted son in law Jack Demarois and a sister Irene. He also leaves behind his “second daughters” Gloria Dobbs and Heather Deschamps as well as an incredibly dedicated long term staff at Garden City Floral and numerous nephews and nieces including locals Bill and Jim Caras and Kathy Veazey. A memorial service and reception will be held on May 17 starting at 4 p.m. at Garden City Funeral Home. In lieu of most anything else, please send flowers to someone you love.