ANDERSON — Thomas Newman remembers one of his early encounters with George G. Pancol.
Thirty-eight years ago, Newman was running a campaign for a Madison County judgeship, and Pancol was one of his primary competitors for the nomination. Newman said all signs pointed to Pancol winning, so the news of Newman's victory was a shock to many. The day after the nomination, Pancol, his son and his daughter all came to Newman's office to offer congratulations.
Newman was very humbled.
"He was so gracious. It almost made me feel ashamed to win," Newman said. "Would I have been that gracious? I don't know. I'm a pretty competitive guy."
So Newman was humbled again when Pancol's family asked him to speak at the former judge's funeral on Saturday. Pancol, who was 87 when he died due to heart complications on Tuesday, was a lifelong Anderson resident and a longtime political and legal stalwart in the community. Despite his prominence and importance in the community, Newman said he was always amazed by Pancol's good nature, graciousness and hard work.
"He had no ill will. He made people feel good about themselves," said Newman, who has served several terms as Madison Circuit Court 3 judge. "I can't believe how blessed our community was to have him as a member for all these years."
The son of Greek immigrants, Pancol graduated from Anderson High School in 1945 and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Indiana University. He was also a World War II veteran of the Army. His law career lasted more than 50 years. He started working as an attorney and also served as a public defender. He was judge of County Court I and most recently worked part-time as a commissioner for Newman.
He married Irene Tzouanakis in 1949, and the two settled in Anderson in 1953. Newman said the two were an amazing couple.