Sailor in Iconic World War II VJ Day Kissing Photo George Mendonsa Dies at 95

Sailor George Mendonsa in iconic Times Square kissing photo dies at 95
George Mendonsa, holds one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century at his Middletown, Rhode Island home, October 2, 2012. Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant/MCT via Getty Images

A sad day. George Mendonsa — the sailor captured in an iconic picture while celebrating the end of World War II in NYC’s Times Square by kissing a woman — has died. He was 95.

Mendonsa passed away on Sunday, February 17, after he fell and suffered a seizure at a Middletown, Rhode Island, assisted-living facility where he resided with his wife of 72 years, his daughter, Sharon Molleur, told The Providence Journal.

“George was a very devoted husband and father. His family was the world to him and was very proud of his family,” the veteran’s obituary on stated, noting that his death came just two days before his 96th birthday. “George was bigger than life and will always be remembered for his kindness and generosity.”

Sailor George Mendonsa in iconic Times Square kissing photo dies at 95
George Mendonsa says he was unaware of the Times Square photograph for 35 years. In 1980 Life Magazine reunited the kissing couple in Times Square. Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant/MCT via Getty Images

The famous black-and-white photo of Mendonsa kissing a dental assistant named Greta Zimmer Friedman — who was wearing a nurse’s uniform — was taken on August 14, 1945, and first published in Life magazine. The image became one of the most popular of the 20th century and is called ‘‘V-J Day in Times Square,’’ but is also simply referred to as ‘‘The Kiss.’’ (Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92 and was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with her late husband.)

The picture was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt the day Japan surrendered to the United States. People flooded the streets in New York City in celebration, including Mendonsa, who planted the documented smooch on Friedman, a woman he did not even know.

“George leaves behind his wife Rita, his children, Ronald Mendonsa and his wife Kathleen, his daughter Sharon Molleur and her husband Bob; three grandchildren, Richard (Jocelyn), Ronnie (Jennifer) and Randy (Shannon) and four great-grandchildren – Tyler, Logan, Jordan and Avery,” his obituary reads. “He also leaves behind his sister, Hilda Todd and many nieces and nephews.”

Mendonsa’s family asks that people make donations to the Rhode Island Veteran’s Home in lieu of flowers.

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