George Scott, who died Monday, January 20, 2014, of lung cancer at age 84, was a key figure in the history of professional wrestling, a key booker in both the resurgence of the Mid-Atlantic territory in the 1970s and the expansionist WWF of the early 1980s. His own in-ring career was great too, particularly as a tag with with his brother, Sandy. But he always joked about a big mistake he made early in his life.
Scott was wrestling in Calgary for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion, and the iconic Canadian hero, Whipper Billy Watson came to town. The fans so loved George that they started chanting “We want Scott” during Whipper’s bout.
Watson was always keen to latch onto a rising star and keep himself in the spotlight in the process. He saw something in George Scott, the Scotland-born lad raised in Hamilton, Ontario.
Talking with Watson in Edmonton, Scott recalled the Whip’s words: “‘When you finish up here, I’d love for you to come and be my tag team partner in Toronto.’ I said, ‘Under no circumstances do I want to be your tag team partner.’ What a stupid idiot I was.”
The Whipper’s loss was wrestling’s gain though.
He lived a good life and was never shy of saying that.
“He held on right to the end,” said his brother, Walter, from Hamilton, Ontarion. “He’d be the first one to tell you he had a great life.”
Since 1986, he was married to Jean, a former journalist from Atlanta. They lived in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, where Jean was a commissioner for seven years in the 1990s.
On Tuesday morning, with a phone constantly ringing in the background as calls of condolences came in, she shared some of the battles that George went through over the last few years.
They found out about his lung cancer in November 2011, not long after he had surgery for cataracts, and in November 2012, George went through all the necessary treatments. In April 2013, he was having a hard time breathing, and moved to a long-term care facility. But that didn’t last: “The hospice actually threw him out because he was doing so well.”
He returned to the hospice in October 2013, and passed away there on Monday, January 20th.
“He was just tired, beat up and tired,” said his widow. “As I told everybody, every day he’d say, ‘Am I going to die today?’ because he was in a lot of pain. And I’d say, ‘No, apparently not. God doesn’t need a wrestler.’ Well, he needed one last night, and he got one.”
A long-time smoker, George also had a number of memory problems which he blamed on numerous blows to the head. “My mind is gone pretty bad. All these concussions and stuff,” he said in March 2011. As well, George broke his neck twice.
“I never thought I’d make it to 40 in this business, the way we used to travel,” he told this writer once.
George Scott has two sons from his first marriage, George Jr., Palm Harbor, Florida, and Byron, of Toronto, Ontario. He has been cremated and plans are in the works for the next step.
His brother, Walter, is looking forward to saying goodbye. “He said, ‘When I go, I want a big party,’ so that’s what Jean’s going to do.”
There will be a celebration of his life, but Jean Scott doesn’t know when. “I want to have everything perfect. It’ll be here somewhere in Indian Rocks, I just have to find a place and a day I can get.”
SCOTT BROTHERS LINKS
- Mar. 11, 2010: Sandy Scott dead at 75
- Oct. 2, 2001: Wrestling and booking came easy to George Scott
- Nov. 16, 2001: George Scott: Making Mid-Atlantic sizzle
- Nov. 15, 2001: George Scott: WWF’s biggest booker
- Nov. 9, 2001: Early days of George Scott began in Hamilton
One of Greg Oliver’s favourite wrestling memories was a lengthy dinner with George Scott and his brother Walter in Hamilton, where one lengthy career was covered. All that stemmed from a meeting at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas, and resulted in dozens of interviews through the years.