George C. Lin, festival director, producer, community volunteer, arts advocate, scientist, son, brother, and most of all, dear and cherished friend to many, died Tuesday, October 14, 2008, at the age of 37.
George had a remarkably varied career, having worked early on as a microbiologist, scientific researcher and a program manager for the National Institute of Justice in Washington, DC and in Chicago, and as a forensic scientist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, MD. George attended the University of Miami in Florida, received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Cincinnati and a M.S. in Forensics Sciences from the George Washington University.
After many years in a profession devoted to science, it wasn’t until 1999 that George unwittingly discovered his passion for the arts through film when he became involved part-time with an arts and education organization which ultimately led to the formation of Asian Pacific American Film, a non-profit corporation located in Washington, DC, where George served as Founding Executive Director. Under his guidance and leadership, the organization blossomed into one that exists today to serve as an interface of arts and media, hosting an annual film festival held throughout Metro DC locations such as the Smithsonian Institution.
In 2003, George left his career as a scientist to pursue his passion in the arts and media, community activism, and public arts administration on a full-time basis. He relocated to sunny San Diego to join the San Diego Asian Film Foundation as the Associate Festival Director. George helped to plan, organize and coordinate community outreach for the festival which screens over 150 films and attracts over 12,000 people every year. George was also a key organization spokesperson for Asian American media arts and issues at many local San Diego educational institutions. George also served on numerous boards and committees for many non-profits located in the San Diego area.
Above and beyond his work with non-profit organizations, George worked tirelessly to help individuals everywhere. He was both an advocate for larger initiatives and issues on behalf of the organizations that he represented and as a supporter and mentor for the fledgling artist, musician, filmmaker, or student. George most enjoyed helping his friends and those in his community, but was equally helpful guiding complete strangers just getting started in the business. Most notably, George co-produced Shangri-La, an independent opera with a renowned percussionist and a Pulitzer-prize-winning poet, in addition to assisting and introducing up-and-coming producers, to mentoring many students embarking upon their dreams. Most recently, George accomplished what he always dreamed of, co-producing a film that locked shortly before his passing, Before We Close.
In addition to a remarkable career, George also led an extraordinary life. Those who have met George all know that he was never short of conversation, enthusiasm, ideas, and memorable remarks. George was rarely ever satisfied with the notion of prevailing conventional wisdom, questioning everything from religious faith down to the subtle yet distinct differences in taste of Skyline versus Goldstar chili spaghetti, a favorite of his growing up in Cincinnati. As passionate as he was for the arts community and public issues, George was equally as passionate about his hobbies and leisure time. George’s interests and activities varied with the Pacific Ocean’s tide, from mountain biking on the trails near his home in Carmel Valley, learning how to surf off of Swami’s beach, to stunt-kite flying on the bluffs of Torrey Pines, just to name a few. However, there were certain hobbies and interests that always remained the same: his passion for vintage high-end audio equipment, finding new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes, watching movies, attending performing arts events, reading, obscure tech gadgets, acquiring nostalgic kitsch, his on-going restoration of his 1950′s Honda Dream motorcycle and fixing the repeated headaches on his trusty Saab.
At 18 years old, George was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma, a rare and debilitating disease that continuously challenged him throughout his life. Yet for the next two decades, George always fought the odds, exceeding his physicians’ outlook on survival by a magnitude of order, and thereby going on to accomplish more than one could possibly imagine in a single lifetime. Notwithstanding the complications and symptoms of his rare and evolving cancer, George lived his life without the fear of physical and mental challenge, without the envy of good health, without the fear of death, and without letting on to most of those people around him that he suffered pain and the inconvenience of ongoing treatments and surgeries and the use of daily medication to help him cope with the symptoms of his disease. George lived his life to the very fullest until the end, and yet his drive, motivation, passion, kindness, humility, and mischievous humor was always endless and a source of inspiration to all.
George is survived by his parents, Philip and Tricia Lin, of Cincinnati, OH, and by his brother, Frank Lin, of New York, NY.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that charitable donations be made to The George C. Lin Memorial Fund established by his family, which will provide grants to institutions that provide scholarships to students studying film, and for pheochromocytoma research and awareness. Please send check donations to:
The San Diego Foundation
2508 Historic Decatur Rd. Ste. 200
San Diego, CA 92106
Please write the name of the fund, The George C. Lin Memorial Fund, on the memo line of the check.