Goldie Baber, a cancer victim, has come home from the hospital and is under the care of The Hospice of the Piedmont.
Hospice worker John Hoselton, a former Marine officer, presented Baber with a certificate and flag pin to honor his 23 years of service in the Navy in submarines. Three dozen relatives and friends gathered on deck behind Baber’s home April 18—Good Friday—to add their love to the presentation.
“I am a strong supporter of the need to recognize our veterans that didn’t get the recognition that vets get now days,” said Hoselton. “Goldie was in the Navy through the 1960s. The Cold War was no joke then. The Russians are very smart people. We want to show our appreciation. It’s our privilege to serve you. You were willing to give up your life for your country. That is a special commitment.”
Baber’s granddaughters pinned the enameled flag and a ‘V’ pin on his collar.
Hoselton said it was the largest turnout for a certificate presentation that he has ever been part of.
“Thank you. I appreciate it. I’m feeling good,” said Goldie, who is remarked on for his refusal to complain about his condition. He declined to talk about himself otherwise or his adventures in the Navy, even when prodded by his friends from the Wyant’s Store “liars club,” a group of old friends who gather at the store in White Hall weekday mornings to drink coffee and chat and goof on each other.
“Goldie was in the first sub to go under the Arctic ice,” volunteered Elbert Dale, the unofficial president of the liars club (Goldie ranks as unofficial vice president). “There was 400 feet of ice over their heads. It was essentially a suicide mission. There was no way to rescue them if something went wrong. Goldie has said the boat had a perfect crew once it went under the ice.
“I’ve accused Goldie of staying under water too long,” quipped Dale.
“We all love you, Goldie,” he added.
Goldie’s son Billy, arguably Western Albemarle High School’s greatest athlete—he went on to an NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs—spoke for his dad.
“I want to thank everybody for coming. Our family. Our friends. It’s special.” He was teary.