George Helme Sutcliffe ’59

George Helme Sutcliffe '59Dr. George Helme Sutcliffe, 81, son of Geoffrey Helme Sutcliffe and Martha Wilkinson Sutcliffe, passed away Wednesday, November 7, 2018, in Charlotte in the devoted care of Hospice.

Born October 4th, 1937 in Shanghai, China; George and his family moved to Geelong, Australia in 1941 to escape the Japanese invasion. George attended Geelong College Preparatory School in Victoria, Australia, where he learned cricket and Australian Rules football.

At the end of 1948, the family decided to move to the United States where his mother’s two brothers were practicing medicine, Louis Wilkinson MD in High Point NC and George Wilkinson MD in Greenville SC. Dr. Sutcliffe attended the old Charlotte Country Day School on Sardis Road.

He then attended the McCallie School in Chattanooga TN graduating Cum Laude in academics. He graduated from Davidson College ’59 with a BS in physics and was awarded an MBA from East Carolina University in 1961.

George served active duty in the US Army from 1961 to 1963 as Radar Platoon Leader and Battery Control Officer assigned to Battery D, 4th Missile Battalion, 71st Artillery, Hazlet, NJ, New York Air defense Sector and was on duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

George continued serving his country in the US Army Reserve for twenty-five years, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in the 1023rd Civil Affairs Brigade in 1988.

Upon discharge from active duty, George pursued a teaching career in business administration at Central Piedmont Community College lasting thirty-two years and retired with a Doctorate in Education in 2002.

George was married 54 years to his childhood sweetheart, Alita White Sutcliffe, and they traveled the world together, both avid lovers of history. With his interest in regional history and family genealogy, Dr. Sutcliffe became a member of Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society in 1982.

He served as treasurer, then later served on the board and was then president 2002-2003. George was also an avid amateur race car driver, and a passionate fan of soccer, helping to reinstate a varsity soccer team while a student at Davidson. He was a gifted storyteller, cracking up his audiences with his Australian accent over a glass of his favorite Scotch, Laphroaig.

He is survived by his first cousin, Wyndham Wilkinson, of Winston-Salem NC, second cousins also of Winston-Salem, Virginia Cabell Wilkinson and Elizabeth Wyndham Wilkinson, SC and English cousins, and long-time devoted friend Maria St. John of Charlotte NC.

Following a memorial service at Harry and Bryant Funeral Home in Charlotte at 11 am on November 16, George Sutcliffe will be buried with his family in Historic Hopewell Presbyterian Church Cemetery, in Claussens SC on November 27th.

Memorials may be sent to the following, or to a charity of your choiceGeorge Helme Sutcliffe '59:

Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society Building Fund, P.O. Box 32453, Charlotte, NC 28232-2453, or

Historic Hopewell Cemetery Committee, Claussens, SC


Published in Charlotte Observer on Nov. 11, 2018