There are many fine examples of talented educators making a mark in fields outside of education. A notable example of this is George Richard Fischbeck, a former science teacher who became a well-known television weatherman in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in Los Angeles, California.
George was born on July 22, 1922, in the small town of Wallington, New Jersey, and raised in Farmingdale, New Jersey. The oldest of four children, he was the son of George and Johanna (Mohlenhoff) Fischbeck. His father was a farmer and his mother was a teacher.
Always an avid student of nature, George first became interested in meteorology when he was stationed in Hawaii with the US Army during World War II and the Air National Guard during the Korean War. Once he was discharged, George attended the University of New Mexico, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education. Then he worked in Albuquerque as a teacher in a career that spanned 23 years.
His daughter, Nancy Fischbeck of Woodland Hills, once described her father as a whirlwind of energy, and he focused it on teaching others about how nature works. “That’s what my childhood was, and why it was so exciting,” she said. “We’d do experiments up on the roof, collect meteor fragments on the mesas in New Mexico, or make clouds in a bottle. He was such a great science teacher.”
After he retired from teaching, George launched his career as a television personality as the host of a children’s science program in Albuquerque. Known popularly throughout his 20 years on TV as “Dr. George,” he was well-known for his non-scripted and humorous broadcasts, and for his bow ties, thick-rimmed glasses, and mustache. “That was the classroom. He was the old professor and that was the look,” Nancy remembered. “The old professor with the mustache, glasses, and pointer.”
Dr. Fischebeck could see the obvious similarities between his two careers. “I come from a family of teachers, and I’ll tell you one thing about teaching, if you can get a kid’s attention you can teach them anything,” he once said during an interview. “You’ve got to do whatever you can to make sure they’re listening to you and not doing anything else. And then you can teach them.” It was a strategy that also worked with his television audiences.
For his service to youth, George garnered a Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1979. He was honored again in 2003 when he was given the Los Angeles Area Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He was given an honorary doctorate in humanities from Albuquerque University.
George retired from television in 1997. Once he retired, he became a guest speaker in Los Angeles schools, served as a volunteer with the Los Angeles Zoo, and worked with the Los Angeles Police Department Volunteer Surveillance Team. This amazing educator and television personality passed away from natural causes on March 25, 2015, at the age of 92.