Vale George

June 28, 2007

I heard some sad news today. George Mena, a Californian technical writer I met at the 2001 STC Conference in Chicago, and with whom I had corresponded on and off over the past 7 or so years, passed away last December aged only 53. Another of the Californian tech writers on one of my email discussion lists found out and posted the sad news.

George was a man who was larger than life in every way. He was a big man with a big heart. He was incredibly knowledgeable about tech writing for manufacturing and the military, and willingly shared his knowledge with our group of lone writers. When you asked a question, George never just gave you a quick answer – he’d give you chapter and verse, with references and citations. Sometimes you just needed a quick answer! Despite the extra information, you always learnt something from George.

I fondly recall meeting him at that conference, and him falling asleep during the very early pre-breakfast business meeting of our Special Interest Group! He really was up long before his usual time. We chuckled over that and gave him a hard time about it! George joined in all the networking activities – at the bar and at the lunches and dinners – and his presence was felt by all who met him.

53 was way too young. Rest in peace, George. You touched many lives.

George’s obituary.


  1. George was a mentor to me long before I ever met him in person. Regardless of whether it was a tech writing question, process question, or how-to-deal-with-management question, George was the first one I contacted precisely because of his trademark lengthy answers. Although I expressed my appreciation profusely each time, I’m not convinced that he knew just how valuable his answers and his guidance were, how much of a difference they made in my life as a new tech writer (or in the work lives of those around me).

    He was a wonderful mentor and a natural teacher at heart. An all-around good guy. Through all of us that he helped, he’s left an enormous legacy. I hope wherever he is now, he now realizes just how big of an impact he made on all of us.

  2. As noted above (and elsewhere) George was a man with a great heart and a devout desire to share knowledge freely. I don’t think I ever met him in the flesh, but I knew him from a dozen different e-lists and SIGs, and he was always ready with an intelligent (and perspicacious) answer to any of the challenges presented. We all owe him a great deal, either from knowledge gained or as an example set.

    Grant Hogarth

  3. I hesitated to post this on the Lone Writer list where Rhonda, Whitney, Grant, and I hang out but it’s a memory of George that always makes me laugh. I once mentioned (in an OT moment on that list) that I was considering a cross-country trip with my son, then 14 or 15. George recommended a stop at the Chicken Ranch in Nevada so my son could, um, gets his pipes cleaned. Completely cracked me up and disgusted me at the same time: right, like I’m going to be waiting in the car in the parking lot while my son is, um, busy. I may be a liberal Mom but I ain’t that liberal!

    Anyway, it always gave me a good laugh that George, only George, would suggest such a thing.

  4. […] While going through my saved STC Lone Writer SIG emails, I came across this long one by the late George Mena, dated July 2001, which I’d like to […]

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