Orange Park Man Aided Others Battling Disease

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

Services were Wednesday for 60-year-old George Chapman who died Sunday morning at his home in Orange Park.

"He was just an incredible man, a gentle soul, a giving and caring person," said his wife, Sharon Chapman, who is principal of Tynes Elementary.

Mr. Chapman died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. He was an architect who enjoyed hiking and water sports with his family. In May 2000, he was diagnosed with ALS, a rare disease that gradually paralyzed him.

In his last days, he couldn't use his limbs but he controlled his electric wheelchair and his computer with his head and used a ventilator to breathe.

Sharon Chapman said her husband's fear was being trapped inside a completely immobile body, so his peaceful passing in his sleep was a blessing of sorts.

Relatives and friends said Mr. Chapman inspired many because he handled the disease with unbelievable courage and grace.

Mr. Chapman's children called him a strong man of conviction, centered in his faith and an excellent example of living with purpose and passion.

Services were at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Ortega, where Mr. Chapman was an active member.

After his diagnosis, Mr. Chapman's focus became fighting for a cure.

He researched the latest information on ALS and technology and helped form an ALS support group facilitated by Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital. He was working with some local doctors to establish an ALS clinic in Jacksonville and was a member of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association's national board of the Lou Gehrig Challenge, a drive to raise $25 million for ALS research. …