Former CEO George Pfeiffer Remembered

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“In lieu of flowers, the family requests that today you pay tribute to George by simply reaching out and helping someone who is in need. This simple act would sum up his life.”

What a profoundly beautiful statement. Each of us, regardless of position or wealth, can reach out to improve another person’s life, if only to let them know they are not alone.

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that George Pfeiffer, former CEO of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, has passed away.

George served as our President and CEO from 1984 to his retirement in 1999. George had also worked with United Way of Dade County, United Way of America and had started his career in nonprofit work with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

During his tenure here, United Way accomplished a great deal:

  • Our annual fundraising campaign grew from less than 2 million to more than 5 million; the Human Care Endowment Fund and the Peaks and Tocqueville Leaders In Giving societies were established.
  • Programs that connected our neighbors to ways to both get, and give, help were cultivated; First Call for Help (now NC 2-1-1) and the Volunteer Center grew during his tenure.
  • The Children First Conference was co-sponsored by United Way in 1991 which led to the development of Children First as a United Way initiative and the subsequent establishment of Children First as its own nonprofit.
  • Always looking outward, George ensured United Way was active in Community Planning and Engagement and many important groups of that time: BEACON, Buncombe County Aging Consortium, Coalition for the Homeless, Health Care Partners, Human Service Council and the Youth Services Action Group.
  • And George put in place active and consistent Strategic Planning and Community Needs Assessment processes. He also established the Community Problem Solving Fund to address unfunded and under-funded problem areas.

And every so often, and as recently as last month, after reading one of our e-newsletters, George would send us a quick note: “Looking good!” “Keep up the good work.”

Our deepest sympathies go out to George’s friends and family.

Do you have a memory or message to share? Click here to send us a story and we will be sure to share your thoughts with his family.

Richard Hurley, a longtime United Way volunteer, served as the Campaign Chair in 1984, George’s first.  He wrote this reflection of George for the Asheville Citizen-Times.

And here is George’s obituary in the Tallahassee newspaper.