For 62 years, they were rarely apart.
Josephine and George Baltzer brought their son, George Jr., everywhere they went, whether it be to the grocery store or on a trip to Europe.
They went out to dinner with other couples as a threesome. Georgie, as many called him, was an enthusiastic regular at the bingo game his mother ran. In nearly every family photo taken over the years, Josephine and Georgie are next to each other holding hands.
“They would get wedding invitations addressed to Mr. and Mrs. George Baltzer and Georgie,” said Georgie’s sister, Rosalie Woska, 51, of Roslyn Heights. “They were a triangle. The world wasn’t complete without all three of them.”
Now, within the span of five months, the world has lost all three.
George Sr. died after complications from pneumonia on Dec. 15. He was 87. Josephine and Georgie still had one another, however, and were living in adjacent rooms at Oyster Bay Manor, an assisted living facility in Oyster Bay.
And then last month, mother and son both came down with COVID-19 and died two days apart. Josephine, who had raised her family of five children in Albertson, died April 23 at Oyster Bay Manor. She was 83. Two days later, unaware that his mother had passed, Georgie died at Glen Cove Hospital. He was 62.
“They really are a special story,” said Georgie’s sister Lorraine Baltzer, 60, of Carle Place. “There is not a single person who ever met Georgie that did not love him. And they had so much love for each other. For my entire life, the three of them were always together.”
Josephine and Georgie Baltzer were interred together next to George Sr. at a mausoleum at Mount St. Mary Cemetery in Queens on May 14.
Josephine was born in Queens Village on April 13, 1937, and graduated high school from The Mary Louis Academy in Queens. When she was in high school, a new boy moved into the house whose backyard abutted hers. She thought he was cute.
“Dad moved in and she would go out in her bathing suit and squirt the hose over the fence to get his attention,” said Lorraine Baltzer.
The couple married, started a family and moved to Albertson. Georgie, their eldest, had some developmental disabilities, but nothing that ever stopped him from being included in everything the family did. One of their favorite activities was to go fishing in the morning out on their boat, which was named the Salty Seven.
Josephine Baltzer encouraged all of her children to follow their passions. Lorraine Baltzer became a nurse; Rosalie Woska, a teacher; Michael Baltzer, 57, of East Williston, an airline pilot; and Stephen Baltzer, 59, of Baldwin, an accomplished woodworker. For years, Georgie’s biggest passion was the CB radio. Not only did he get the whole family involved, but he also made friends all over the country while talking to truckers and others on the road.
George Sr. was a pressman who worked at the New York Daily News for 46 years before retiring in 1996. Josephine held several jobs, including working as bookkeeper for the Town of North Hempstead. Georgie also worked 10 years as a custodian for North Hempstead.
After their retirements, the three moved to Jupiter, Florida, in the winter and spent the summers in the Poconos.
“Everywhere they went, George was like the mayor,” Michael Baltzer said of his brother. “When my parents volunteered at a thrift shop at the hospital, he would go with them and be the one who greeted everyone at the front door. Everywhere you went, everyone knew him.”
The three moved back to Long Island in 2016 to be closer to the rest of their family. They eventually settled into Oyster Bay Manor, an assisted living facility that was able to take in all three of them.
After years of taking care of Georgie, the family said it was particularly hard on their mother when she contracted the coronavirus.
“Mom was having trouble letting go,” Woska said. “I got on the phone and said, ‘Don’t worry mom, we’ll take care of Georgie.’ As soon as I said his name, she stopped breathing.
"I literally hung up the phone and the hospital called to say Georgie had taken a turn for the worse. ... I think they just all had to be together.”
Other survivors include Josephine Baltzer's brother, Anthony Varvaro of Fort Lauderdale, and the couple's 13 grandchildren.
A note to our community:
As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing. Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.SUBSCRIBE