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Lindquist Funeral Home

1 Mayberry Ln, Yarmouth, ME

OBITUARY

George Denney

July 22, 1937August 28, 2020

George Denney, founder of Cole Haan footwear, died Friday, August 28 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine comforted by his wife, Joyce and his immediate family. He was 83. George enjoyed a full and prosperous life. Born on Manhattan Island, New York, he moved to Freeport, Maine at a young age where he was raised by his grandparents, George and Agnes Beale.

George often spoke of his grandmother whom he loved dearly and of his adventures with friends fishing in the local estuaries by his grandparent’s home near Mast Landing in Freeport. Never afraid of hard work, George tried a number of different trades. He worked as a farmhand, clam digger and eventually entered the shoe business after graduating from Freeport High School, briefly moving to California where he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Wyman of Pownal, Maine then returning to Maine where their first child, a daughter, was born. The birth of their son followed a year and a half later. In 1975, George acquired the Cole Haan brand name and assembled a top-notch team of professionals in the fashion footwear industry, who under his tutelage, grew the Cole Haan brand to international success. George’s eye for quality and attention to detail in everything he did served him well throughout his life. At its peak, Cole Haan was sold to athletic footwear giant, Nike.

George, not resting on his laurels, invested in a number of successful ventures in real estate with numerous businessmen in southern Maine.

When asked, George summed up his business philosophy by saying “Plan your work, work your plan and stay focused”.

George was especially proud of his efforts to transform his beloved hometown of Freeport into a retail destination in southern Maine. He insisted on a sense of class and worked to make Freeport, ‘not just any other outlet town’ but a unique place where shops and stores retained the character of the Freeport he knew growing up.

History was always a part of George’s thought process volunteering his time and support to the Freeport Historical Society who in turn nominated George as “Freeport Citizen of the Year” in 2016. Mr. Denney was inducted into the Maine Business Hall of Fame, presented with the LL Bean Community Involvement Award, and received a Distinguished Member Award from the Freeport Merchants Association.

George took time to enjoy many other interests outside of the business world. He and his wife, Joyce very much enjoyed their cottage at Wolfe’s Neck, fishing and boating on Casco Bay and snowmobiling in Rangeley. George was an avid fisherman and big game hunter. He made an effort to get away as often as he could find the time, be it salmon fishing in Canada, moose hunting in Alaska, or ice-fishing on Moosehead Lake. He relished his time in the woods and waters and the camaraderie of his sportsmen partners and friends.

A far cry from his public persona of a no-nonsense businessman George loved to relax with family and friends. A very social person George possessed an almost boyish sense of humor. He loved to joke and laugh and had a quick quip for any situation.

George is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Joyce (Wyman) Denney of Freeport, his sister, Laura Adler of Carson City, NV, his daughter, Dawn (Tim) Connolly of Freeport, his son, George S. Denney of Carrabassett Valley, his grandchildren, Sean LaBrie (Jess Agren) of Cumberland, Hillary (Topher) Liddle of Brunswick and Thomas (Elizabeth) Connolly of Bangor along with his five great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, his neighbors, friends, admirers, and his long time business associates.

Due to COVID-19, services will be held privately. Private interment with family will be at Burr Cemetery in Freeport.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Freeport Community Services Inc. (FCS), 53 Depot Street, Freeport, ME 04032, online at fcsmaine.org or Freeport Historical Society, 45 Main St, Freeport, ME 04032 or chose their online donation page at freeporthistoricalsociety.org.

Services

  • Private Committal Service

Memories

George Denney

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Sheila Skeffington

September 10, 2020

I was saddened and surprised to hear of George's passing. Hard to believe he's gone actually. I hadn't seen him in many years. Time passes so quickly and I always thought there would be time to catch up with him once again. My condolences to Joyce, Dawn and George. He lived a most interesting and accomplished life. May he forever rest in peace.

Chris Parker

September 7, 2020

Dear Denney family,

I am so sorry for your loss, George was an inspiration and leader in Freeport. I was fortunate enough to have spent quite some time with him and FMA. He was welcoming and warm to me and my family always. Freeport and the world will not be the same.

Thoughts and Prayers,

Chris Parker

John Donnelly

September 7, 2020

I will alway remember and admire his creativeness, his sense of adventure and how he fully embraced every new challenge. So many have learned so much from George. I was fortunate to have entered his orbit.

Diane Campbell

September 6, 2020

We were saddened to hear of George's passing. Joyce and family please know we are praying for you during this difficult time and thinking of you as you grieve such a great loss. George was a pillar in the Freeport community and in Maine. We also want to extend condolences from our mother (in-law) Alice Campbell who is currently residing in Avita of Brunswick, in assisted living. She was a huge fan of George's and as a matter of fact one of the last places she visited was at George and Joyce's home. Her son Fred and George were great friends in their youth and did a lot together. Fred has passed as well, three years ago. A generation gone. So sad. God bless you all.

Zane and Diane Campbell

Kathleen and Peter Lowe

September 4, 2020

George was my first boss when I went to work at Taylor shoe in the office he was a very fair and agreeable boss.i enjoyed working for him. Peter also went snowmobile riding and ice fishing with him.hard to believe he is gone. Condolences to the family. Kathy and Peter Lowe

Jean Wyman Bolt

September 4, 2020

Living in Colorado it had been years since I made the trip to Maine to visit family, but in October 2019 was able, despite age, distance, and time , to fly home to see everyone . I found George still keeping positive , smiling and joking, despite health issues. He had such a fun spirit, wanted to go boating!
Our family will miss you, George...

Jean Wyman Bolt

Alice Pelletier

September 3, 2020

Dearest Joyce and Dawn and Family . My deepest condolences to you all at this time . When starting my Business 37 years ago I remember the gentleman Mr. Denny was and his twinkle in his eye . Always encouraging and Kind . May he now RIP. Much Love to you all.. Alice and Natalie...

Catherine and David Glover

September 3, 2020

Although it has been many years since we shared time with George, he is forever so very fondly in our memories.
When Catherine worked at the FMA, George was not only on her board of directors, but he was also someone that served as a mentor. There were many, many occasions when George would simply take the time to talk and to share wisdom, always with a look in to what could be.
Catherine was always appreciative of his savvy, his kindness, his strategic nature, and his warmth.
We shared the love of Moosehead Lake, and the many stories that went along with that beautiful connection.
When David and Catherine got married in a most unexpected way, at a most unfortunate time in our lives, George helped us to celebrate.
You see, David and Catherine were to be married on November 10, 2001, but David was called to duty after 9/11 with the ANG, and we quickly/unexpectedly moved our wedding to October - just a couple of days before David deployed.
George made sure that our one honeymoon night together before David left for parts unknown was as special as could be. He gifted us with a stay in the most beautiful room at the Embassy Suites.
We toast George to this day!
He will be sadly missed, but remains a tender memory in our family.

Louise Jonaitis

September 3, 2020

Thoughts and prayers to Joyce and the extended family. May Joyce find comfort in the mutual love that you shared. I came to know George to be a unique self-made man that could motivate people to action and great outcome. I had the opportunity of gaining an invaluable business education over many years from a master at it and hopefully George learned about eternal life from me. “Plan your work and work your plan.” May your Soul Rest In Eternal Peace now with the Chief Planner.

Joe Piergrossi

September 2, 2020

My heart goes out to Joyce, Dawn. George and their families. Heartfelt condolences. George taught me so much during my many years at CH. He was a good man. May he rest in peace.

FROM THE FAMILY

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