George Bengal 1947-2016
Written by Susan Underkoffler
What do you say when faced with a loss so big it’s just unfathomable? When it doesn’t seem real – when it just can’t be true. When someone you’ve worked with so long might not be here anymore? When you fight back tears and try to find words but the words won’t come? When someone’s star that shines so large and bright may not shine anymore?
A hero to so many, animals and humans alike, George Bengal is my mentor and my inspiration. The memories are immense! We went through a lot, he and I. Fought many battles, sometimes against each other. But in the end there was respect. He brought me out of my shell, gave me guidance, taught me much. I sat in his office for the first time as a grad school intern, green and naïve and eager, and he gave me a chance. He let me battle alongside him for years, he showed me the ropes, and I came out much more confident, experienced, and knowledgeable. He opened my eyes to the real world.
George is a fixture in the city of Philadelphia. Through his years as head of Humane Law Enforcement at the Pennsylvania SPCA he has made many devoted friends and supporters through his tireless efforts to end animal cruelty and neglect. His pursuit of justice has also made him many enemies, as those who do wrong fear his retribution. He stands for what is right, for what is good. He saved so many lives – too many to mention. There is no one like him and there will never be another. His hope is that his work will go on, long after he is gone, and it is up to all of us to make sure his hope becomes reality.
I will continue the fight, for him and through him. I will never forget the lessons he taught me, the courage he showed in every situation, the determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity, the devotion to his team, his love of life. And above all, his legacy.
What do you say when a person of this caliber is facing a completely unjust and unbefitting end of his life? Not goodbye. I say, SEE YOU LATER. One day, we will see each other again, where there will be no more battles to fight. I say thank you, even though it is not nearly enough. A mere “thank you” can hardly do justice to this man and all his accomplishments. But it’s all I have.
Thank you, George. For being there. For being my boss. For being my friend. For being a true hero.