George Michael Papa, Sr.
I never knew my paternal grandfather. George M. Papa, Sr. died before I was born, but his humility before God is legendary. Grandpa Papa grew up in a family of Croatian bootleggers, supplying the Chicago mobs of the 1930’s, but after marrying my grandmother, he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two later moved to Snowflake, a small town in Northern Arizona. To say George was rough around the edges would be merely scratching the surface. He had smoothed some of his rough corners but was still a mighty proud man—except when it came to God. To his God he was submissive, and he listened when God spoke.
I want to share some of the stories I have grown up hearing about my grandfather.
He taught me you do not need to be perfect to teach, protect and guide your family.
George was born in January of 1916 outside of Chicago, IL. Both parents emigrated from Croatia, so my father likes to say his dad was the first Croat baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t like it when I point out Grandpa Papa was born American. Still, Croatian roots are deep and strong.
Staunchly Catholic, his mother hoped he would be a priest. His father hoped for help in the family bootlegging operation. George, however, was independent and had his eye on the race horses from a young age.
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