HICKORY George I. Benkowsky, 88, died Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, at Carolina Caring in Newton, after a period of declining health. George was born Aug. 6, 1931, in Paris, France to parents who had fled Russia following the Russian Revolution. He spent his early teen years in German-occupied Europe during the Second World War before immigrating to the United States at 18. He then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served during the Korean War, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. He enrolled at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., in 1955, and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. George then embarked on an exciting and innovative career in the new medium of television. He joined the engineering division of CBS in New York City in 1959, and spent the next five decades designing and implementing ground-breaking production and audiovisual technology that is now common place. He was the Manager of Technical Design for CBS's coverage of the 1968 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the first time that such events were broadcast in color. He moved from New York City to begin work at the CBS production studios in Los Angeles in 1969, where he was instrumental in providing live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. He became a world-renowned expert in audio production and studio design. The sound tracks of many movies were recorded in facilities designed by George. He redesigned the set of The Late Show with David Letterman in order to optimize the acoustics of live rock music performances. He also designed all of the audio for several live studios, including the studios for Sonny & Cher, All in the Family, and The Carol Burnett Show. He married, Diana, the love of his life, in 1989, and they relocated to Hickory in 2009, upon his retirement. George was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Andrew; and sister, Antoinette. He is survived by his wife, Diana Benkowsky of Hickory; son, Paul Forgues of Asheville; several brother and sisters-in-law, including David and Dana Lowry of Hickory, Donnie and Alli Van Deventer of Santa Monica, Calif., and David and Sue Ayers of Minneapolis, Minn.; and many nieces, nephews and friends. A memorial service will be held in Hickory at Corinth Reformed Church, Sunday, Nov. 24, at 1 p.m. Bass-Smith Funeral Home in Hickory is serving the family of George I. Benkowsky. Condolences may be sent to www.bass-smithfuneralhome.com.
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