Celebrating Our Beloved Geo—and Looking Ahead | GeoEx
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Celebrating Our Beloved Geo—and Looking Ahead

By Don George | September 1, 2020

As we enter the month of September, all of us at Geographic Expeditions pause to remember and celebrate our beloved chairman, George Doubleday II, who passed away one year ago this month. George—or Geo, as everyone called him—assumed leadership of the company in 1984, two years after its founding.

A travel industry veteran who had headed Pan American Airways’ Far Eastern Operations from a base in Hong Kong before moving to San Francisco, Geo brought a unique combination of passion for world travel, business acumen, integrity, idealism, and compassion to our company.

He guided GeoEx’s course from a scrappy start-up specializing in exploring remote corners of Asia to a world-renowned, widely respected pioneer in the adventure travel field, with trips ranging from trailblazing treks to cultural immersions in more than 60 countries on all seven continents. Guided by his commitment to excellence, GeoEx won just about every media plaudit awarded, from best trip and best travel company honors by National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, AFAR, and many others, to Best Places to Work by Outside magazine.

Under Geo’s leadership, GeoEx grew into a company renowned throughout the industry for the creativity, quality, and integrity of its travel offerings and for the family-like feeling of its staff. Working for GeoEx was truly like joining a big family, and one of the company’s standing jokes was that on the rare occasion when a staffer did leave—to have a baby, or accompany a partner on an irresistible venture, or pursue an academic dream—they would inevitably, eventually, return. And so they did.

Geo infused GeoEx with his signature qualities: an exuberant enjoyment of life, an embrace of world-exploring adventure, a delight in people, a bedrock integrity, and an all-pervading compassion. And as we all could tell, like a proud parent, he deeply loved this company he had molded and the globe-connecting, culture-bridging journeys it creates.

And we all loved him. Whenever Geo visited the office, we were overjoyed. “How are you?” he would heartily ask staffers as he walked from cubicle to cubicle, his laughing-dancing eyes looking straight into ours, his exuberance transforming the air. Then he would give each of us a great bear hug that would always breathe new energy and inspiration into us. For many, he became a prime life-mentor. Whatever vicissitudes the day had delivered, Geo still filled the room with his infectious, inspiring love.

His passing one year ago devastated us, left a hole in the world that we still feel today, but we also find solace in remembering and celebrating his larger-than-life—and certainly larger-than-death—personality, his fundamental passion and compassion, his deep generosity, his keen intellect, his big-as-the-world heart, and his inspiring idealism.

As we remember Geo, we feel profoundly fortunate and grateful that his three children—Ned, Jennifer, and Stephen—have taken up their father’s mantle, carrying on his work as members of the GeoEx board, guiding us through the extraordinary challenges of the world today. They are infusing GeoEx with the same passion, idealism, and commitment that Geo made part of the company’s DNA, and with the fresh new enthusiasm, energy, and vision that their father brought to the company in 1984.

Nothing can entirely solace the loss of a beloved patriarch and life-mentor, but as we look ahead, we find comfort and inspiration in the presence and passion of Ned, Jennifer, and Stephen, and in their determination to honor, nurture, and continue to make flourish the special company that their father so lovingly and successfully tended for the last 35 years of his glorious life.

We pause today to celebrate this singular man who, through his spirit and his actions, made the world a richer, better place. And we rededicate ourselves, in his memory and honor, to continuing that essential work, more important now than ever, of sharing the planet’s extraordinary diversity of wonders and forging bonds of understanding, friendship, and goodwill around the globe.

Yours in celebration of a man who embodied wanderlust,

Don George

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If you have a memory of our beloved Geo or a comment about him that you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts below. Thank you!

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Andy Block
Andy Block
10 months ago

George was a Yale classmate, a best friend and travel companion when we went around the world following graduation in 1961. At this time 59 years ago, we were just finishing our adventure that took us to Mt Fuji, Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal, the great pyramids, the majesty of Luxor and the Greek islands besides many other stops along the way. I always wondered if that trip, a graduation present from our parents, planted the seed that blossomed into GeoEx. George always had the adventure twinkle in his eye whether it was driving cross country during college summers, enlisting… Read more »

Ikram M. Beg
Ikram M. Beg
10 months ago

I am truly sorry for a great loss. I would like to offer his family and GeoEx team my deepest and most sincere condolences and may the soul of your chairman rest in peace. I never had any opportunity meeting him personally but I am quite familiar with your company name and operations to our region Gilgit Baltistan in north of Pakistan. I did guided few of your trips in Pakistan in mid eighties when it was Inner Asia Expeditions.

Brent Olson
Brent Olson
10 months ago

Lately I’ve been thinking of the play, Our Town by Thornton Wilder— where the young mother, Emily, who dies in childbirth is given the chance to relive one day. At first she wants to relive her wedding day, but her mother-in-law (who preceded her in death and is trying to guide her) says, “No! At least choose an unimportant day. Choose the most unimportant day in your life. It will be important enough.” Every day, no matter how mundane or pedestrian, is filled with cherished, if unrecognized, moments, if we only had the insight to appreciate them. Our lives pass… Read more »

Tsewang Rinchen
10 months ago

In Bhutan, we called him ‘Geo-la’ – the addition of ‘la’ made it deeply respectful to the much friendly ‘Geo’. The respect that I felt for him was out of best of human nature that he exhibited during his travels with me here. His hugeness of heart and graciousness will never be forgotten as he would live in our hearts

Karma LOTEY
10 months ago

Thank you Don for this wonderful tribute to Geo. We at Yangphel Adventure Travel remember George & family during their adventure trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan. The Yangphel family had a really nice evening gathering around a bon fire with him & family at a farm house. The evening was full of joy, laughter & bliss having joined the village headman and the local villagers in the traditional dance & other activities. We remember him & miss him just as you described ” His passing one year ago devastated us, left a hole in the world that we still… Read more »

Elizabeth McNeil
Elizabeth McNeil
10 months ago

I always admired how he would greet every single staff member by name as he walked down the hallway. It didn’t matter if you had been there one day or ten years, he knew your name and made sure to say it so that you felt seen. Thanks for the lovely tribute, Don!

Sally Falkner
Sally Falkner
10 months ago

What a beautiful written tribute. Everything he embodied, certainly makes me want to travel with GeoEx.

Kishore Sharma
Kishore Sharma
10 months ago

Dear Don,

Thank you very much for sharing your lovely tribute to Late Mr. George Doubleday II

I have never had a chance to met him in person during my few visit to the GeoEx office , but I always heard great things about him from staff and more from Ana Allwood during her last visit to India in September.

With Kind Regards,

Kishore Sharma

Ann O’Connell
Ann O’Connell
10 months ago

What an extraordinary tribute. Every business owner should aspire to be so revered. And, it is wonderful that the company’s Board members and employees recognize what a privilege it is to experience such leadership.

Nicole Peelle
Nicole Peelle
10 months ago

Thank you Don for writing this lovely tribute to our dear Geo. I miss his smiling face and great voice as he stopped by my desk to say hello and how are you. He genuinely cared about his staff at GeoEx. Somehow I always felt better when he was in his office or at a gathering. His positive attitude and reassurance we’re comforting even during the many ups and downs of the geopolitical world. Geo was much more than our Chairman, he was a kind and warm friend and a fine helmsman. Thank you, Geo! I miss you!

Jo Sanders
Jo Sanders
8 months ago
Reply to  Nicole Peelle

Oh, hello, Nicole! There are soo many wonderful memories I have of the days when InnerAsia was adopted into Geographic Expeditions… we were certainly frontrunners in the China/Tibet world, and now – well, GeoEx is soo much more! I miss those days and all who were involved. I now reside in the verdant Carolina Pines, working in healthcare at UNC Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill – a challenging time for all!!! It was a huge transition but one I am very happy I made. I do dance in the Facebook world, so if you are also there, give me a… Read more »

daphne Bransten
daphne Bransten
10 months ago

so many great times and how he loved his great family A true genius in orchestrating great times and experiences

darrin martin
darrin martin
10 months ago

I met Geo as a neighbor in Healdsburg, before he built his off the grid home. I distinctly remember meeting the affable, warm gentlemen that he was, but down to earth with clearly good politics… he was wearing a “free Tibet” T shirt, … first impressions are always interesting… darrin martin

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