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In Memoriam: George Majkowski

In Memoriam: George Majkowski

1929 – 2002

by Jay Hargreaves

Originally published in American Lutherie #72, 2002 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Six, 2013

It saddens me to inform you of the passing of my good friend, colleague, and mentor, George Majkowski, on August 5th, 2002. Due to complications from treatments he was receiving for kidney disease, he succumbed to an infection that quickly overcame his already weakened heart. He died peacefully with family at his side.

George was born in Poland. While in his teens during World War II, he was captured by the Germans and sent to a labor camp. Upon liberation by American troops, he was adopted by them and learned to speak English in three months.

He then went to France, quickly learned the language, and was hired as an interpreter. He also worked repairing electrical motors. He enjoyed visiting the cabarets and hearing Django play. Guitar music became one of his joys in life.

He immigrated to the U.S. during the Korean War and was drafted into the army. After the war he was given U.S. citizenship.

He began his career at IBM and soon became involved in the installation of mainframe computers throughout the world. His reputation as a brilliant troubleshooter gained him the nickname “Magic.” It was during his travels for IBM that he met his lovely wife, Anna.

Photo by Jay Hargreaves

Always with him was his guitar. He studied flamenco and would play semiprofessionally, backing singers and dancers. After he retired from IBM, he turned his attention to building harpsichords and guitars. He attended Richard Schneider’s Lost Mountain Seminar for the Guitar in 1991, and built his first Kasha guitar within a year’s time. George became one of Richard’s assistants, bringing with him new ideas in construction and jig design. After Richard passed away in 1997, George was instrumental in a project which involved building ten guitars in tribute to Richard.

George and I worked closely together, completing the last three of Richard’s commissioned guitars. When his health prevented him from being at his workbench, he continued to provide ideas and insight into his love of guitar making.

George ol’ buddy, you’ll be missed.