Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The rest of the story

I’m on the email list of Delphi (Ind.) High School alumni and was startled this morning to see this obit:

MISHAWAKA - Thomas W. Goff, 67, of Mishawaka, formerly of Delphi, Indiana, passed away at 4:24 pm on September 8th, 2011 at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Mishawaka. He was born April 8th, 1944, in Lafayette, Indiana to the late Ernest L. Goff and Marie H. Goff. Tom served in the Air Force and was honorably discharged. He is survived by his sister, Elizabeth Friend of Downers Grove, Illinois, his brother, Jim Goff of Wabash, Indiana and his sons, Kenneth Goff and Scott Goff. He is also survived by a daughter-in-law, Cheri Goff and step grandchildren, Cory Clemmons and Tori Clemmons of Mishawaka, Indiana. He was a dedicated Substance Abuse Counselor and was an active member of AA. The family would like to thank the Indiana Methodist Transplant Unit (Tom received a lung transplant in May of 2000). Also they would like to thank Clarian Health, Doctors Reynolds and Roe, Danielle Gooch and Nephrology Inc., St. Vincent de Paul and also Stone Soup Organization. He was a Delphi High School graduate in 1962 and in May of 1997, he earned a BA degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. He also attended Indiana University, Bloomington from 1963 - 1966. Funeral services for Mr. Goff will be held at 10:00 am on Monday at Bubb Funeral Chapel, 3910 North Main Street, Mishawaka where friends will be received from 3 until 7 pm on Sunday. Burial will follow the services at the Masonic Cemetery, Delphi, Indiana at 2:00 pm Monday. The family wishes memorial contributions be made to the Indiana Organ procurement Organization. They may be contacted at 574-246-9473 for further information on donations.

Published in South Bend Tribune on September 10, 2011

Tom was a year older than I. His family lived in a big old stone house on the edge of “the hollow,” a wooded ravine that separated the newer eastside neighborhoods of Delphi from the older part of the town. He introduced me to rudimentary rock climbing as we scaled what seemed like real cliffs there.

He also played a significant role in my destiny on two occasions.

It was his bicycle that I commandeered during neighbor Tom Popejoy’s 10th birthday part in April, 1956, when I set out to chase friend Jack Klepinger who was astride Popejoy’s new 3-speed bike. Goff’s bike was also an “English” style bicycle with hand brakes, unlike my bike which had coaster brakes.Thomas-Goff-dead-GoffThomas_20110910.jpgx

Jack sped south on Lafayette Street, flashing across Monroe Street with me in hot pursuit. As I entered the intersection, I noticed a Cadillac convertible approaching from the left. I tried to veer to the right, but the car hit me, breaking my left femur in two places and gashing the inside of my left index finger. Goff’s bicycle was wrecked beyond repair.

The driver, a local physician, put me into his car, checked in with my parents and drove me to Home Hospital in Lafayette.

Flash forward nine years to the summer of 1965.

I was 20 years old and had lost my student deferment at a time when the Vietnam War was heating up and the Selective Service was drafting for the Marines as well as for the Army.

I became aware that Tom Goff had enlisted in the Air Force and received a medical discharge – I don’t recall the reason.

That, plus the realization that the Air Force has no infantry, factored into my conclusion that I stood a better chance of surviving the Vietnam era if I enlisted in the Air Force, rather than wait to be drafted into the Army or Marines.

Turns out I was right. I had a brief 41-day career in the Air Force that ended with a medical (honorable) discharge for allergies.

Godspeed, Tom Goff.

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