When some people pass through our lives, they leave a permanent impression. Bob was one of those people. Today is his birthday. Allow me to celebrate his life by sharing some of his story with you.
Bob was born on August 13, 1925. He grew up in Ames, Oregon. When he was 17, he dropped out of high school and ran away from home. He lied about his age and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He fought for America in the South Pacific during World War 2. He was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in the field, when his own sergeant was killed.
When Bob returned home from the war, jobs were scarce. He needed to make a living for he and his wife. Bob was an excellent mechanic. He couldn't find employment, so he started his own automotive repair shop. He didn't think of himself as an entrepreneur. He just knew he needed money to take care of he and his wife, and people would pay him to fix their cars and trucks.
A few years later, Bob accepted a job as a mechanic with the U.S. Postal Service in Tacoma, Washington. One day, he and another mechanic were using a portable hoist to lift an engine out of a mail truck. When the engine was high enough, the other mechanic climbed under the engine to disconnect the oil and fuel lines. The hoist made a loud, cracking sound and began to shake. The engine began to fall onto the other mechanic. He couldn't get out of the engine compartment.
Instantly, Bob climbed onto the fender of the truck. With super-human strength, he lifted the engine, rolled it over the other fender and let it go. The building shook as the engine and the hoist collapsed into a pile of rubble.
Bob saved a man's life that day. God was watching.
Bob's co-worker was scared but unharmed. Bob couldn't walk. He had excruciating back pain. He was rushed to the hospital.
X-rays revealed three crushed vertebrae. The Post Office terminated his employment, saying he couldn't perform his assigned job any more. Several surgeries later, Bob could perform light work with the assistance of a back brace.
Bob took jobs where he could find them. He moved his family to Pendleton, Oregon. He worked in the wheat fields, and as a mechanic. Because of the quality of his work, he developed a reputation as a leader, a teacher and a master mechanic.
He became the service manager for Comrie Oldsmobile Cadillac in Pendleton. One day, he was called to the shop floor. A mechanic had severely cut himself. He was bleeding out. People were standing around, staring, not knowing what to do. Bob raced in and pushed them out of the way. The mechanic pleaded with him. "Bob, I'm dying. Please save me."
Bob grabbed a rag and applied pressure to stop the bleeding...just like he had taught his Boy Scout troop. The bleeding stopped. The ambulance arrived. The mechanic had lost a lot of blood, but he survived.
Bob saved another man's life that day. God was watching.
The Pendleton Vocational-Technical School called Bob one day and offered him a teaching position. The director said, "We want you to teach our students the skills you have developed over the years." He accepted the job. The school evolved into Blue Mountain Community College. Bob was a popular instructor in the Automotive Division.
During a routine records check, the college discovered that one of their most popular teachers was in fact a high-school dropout. Oops. Bob had earned his G.E.D. on a Navy ship, on the way to the South Pacific. However, that ship was sunk by an enemy torpedo on its way home. Bob's records were at the bottom of the ocean.
Bob was the oldest student in the G.E.D. class at Pendleton High School. He passed. How, he was officially a high school graduate. A new surprise was waiting for him. By then, the state of Oregon required that Bob possess a teaching degree.
Each summer, Bob rented a tiny apartment in Corvallis and attended summer school at Oregon State University. It was hard leaving his family in Pendleton for three months each year, but it was necessary. After he completed his Junior year, the college gave Bob paid leave so he could attend his entire Senior year at once.
In his late fifties, Robert Goss, high school dropout, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Trade and Industrial Education from Oregon State University. He's my hero.
My dad died in 1980, but I will never forget him. I keep his memory alive by sharing stories about him with my children, my grandchildren, and now you. Happy, Birthday, Dad!
Today, in some small way, "be like Bob."