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Humphrey School benefactor George Pillsbury dies at 91

George Pillsbury

George Sturgis Pillsbury, Humphrey School friend and benefactor, died October 13 after a full life. He was 91.

Pillsbury, 91, died peacefully in his home on Lake Minnetonka in Orono, Minnesota, on October 13, 2012, surrounded by those who loved him dearly a hundred yards from where he was born in 1921. The youngest son of John Sargent Pillsbury and Eleanor Lawler Pillsbury, George attended the Blake School, St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, and Yale College (1943) where he rowed and captained the crew. Following his military service as a Marine Lieutenant in the Pacific Theater during World War II, he returned to Minneapolis where he wed Sally Lucille Whitney. To his last day, he said marrying Sally was the smartest thing he ever did. The Pillsburys moved to New York in 1947, where George headed the New York Export Office of the Pillsbury Company, a corporation founded by his grandfather Charles Alfred Pillsbury, in 1872. In 1951, the family moved back to Minnesota, where Pillsbury continued his work with the Pillsbury Company and retired as executive vice president in 1969, serving another 20 years on its board of directors.

Pillsbury served in the Minnesota State Senate from 1971 to 1982. As a senator, he supported family planning, education, and government reform. He was a lifelong moderate Republican, crossing party lines to support Democrats and independents alike. During his time in the legislature, Senator Pillsbury advocated a unicameral state legislature.

Pillsbury and author Lori Sturdevant documented his family's legacy in the book The Pillsburys of Minnesota. He was preceded in death by siblings John S. Pillsbury Jr., Edmund P. Pillsbury, Ella P. Crosby, Charles A. Pillsbury, and Jane P. Resor, and is survived by his wife of 65 years, Sally Whitney Pillsbury, his four children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service is planned for 4 p.m. on November 10 at the Wayzata Community Church. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in his memory to Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Published in Star Tribune on October 21, 2012