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Author, traveler George H. Drury dies

George Drury dies
George Drury at work at Kalmbach.
Author and former Kalmbach Publishing Co. employee George H. Drury died June 21 at age 73 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. A native of Reading, Mass., and lifelong rail enthusiast, Drury was working in San Francisco when he was hired as a copy editor for Kalmbach’s Books Department in 1972. He moved from Books to Kalmbach’s company library in 1975, then back to Books in 1992. He also wrote 21 articles for Model Railroader magazine, mostly about passenger cars and stations. After retirement in 1997, Drury was a freelance author, wrote a column for Railfan & Railroad magazine, and led rail tours of Europe.

Drury is perhaps best known to Trains magazine readers as the author of dozens of entertaining and informative articles on rail travel in Europe and North America and for the occasional two-page spreads of vintage publicity photos with his own wry captions added. Behind the scenes, Drury organized a loose collection of books, photos, and other reference materials into one of the top railroad libraries in the country.

Drury used the resources at his disposal to compile four books that formed the nucleus of Kalmbach Books’ Railroad Reference Series: The Historical Guide to North American Railroads, The Train-Watcher’s Guide to North American Railroads, Guide to Tourist Railroads and Museums, and Guide to North American Steam Locomotives. He also conceived Kalmbach’s “Golden Years of Railroading” series of photo books, which eventually ran to 18 volumes.

Among Drury’s principal railroad interests were the Boston & Maine, which he knew as a youth; Southern Pacific, for which he worked for a time; steam locomotives; and passenger trains. In addition, Drury was a devoted, active member of Milwaukee’s Immanuel Presbyterian Church; loved to prepare and serve (and consume) fine food; and possessed a uniquely dry sense of humor. Drury treasured his connections with family, friends, and his feline housemates.

Combining rigor and humor, Drury’s books and articles mark him as one of the outstanding figures in railroad publishing.

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