Walter James Goodwin, Sr., age 94, caught the sunrise express to glory around 5:45 am Monday morning, July 16. There will be a memorial service at the Cedar Island United Methodist Church, at 11:00 am Friday, July 20, 2012.
Somewhere in time Mollie Willis and Walter Goodwin courted, fell in love, and married. They raised six children in the house on Cedar Island (Lola) near the spot where the radar pedestal still stands near the shoreline. Roxie, Wilbur, Naomi, Effie, and Oswald, were Walter James' five siblings. His parents, Mollie and Walter, and his five siblings all predeceased him.
He is survived by his son, Jim, and wife Jan Goodwin and their families. He has three grandchildren: Tiffany Robert, and husband, Trey and their children, Chloe and Evan: Trent Goodwin, his wife Patricia, and children, Natalie, Mollie, Mattie, and Trent, Jr., :Todd Goodwin, his wife, Lisa, and their children, Truman, Jackson, and Harrison Goodwin. He also delighted in all of his nieces and nephews and their families who shared with him various family events over the last year and a half since his return to Cedar Island.
Walter James entered the U.S. Coast Guard in March, 1941. He was home on leave on December 7, 1941, and happened to be in Sunday School at the Pilgrim's Rest Free Will Baptist Church when his Dad, who was home, heard on the radio of the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. When he got back to the house, he had lunch with his parents, and then headed back to his duty station in Baltimore. When he finally reported in, his C.O. asked him, "Where in the hell is Lola, NC? We've been trying to reach you and can't even find it on the map." His C.O. did not know that Lola was actually part of an island of heaven on earth, and that young Walter James would long for it many days and nights before he returned from World War II in December, 1945.
Walter James spent much of 1942 and 1943 on convoy duty on an eighty-three foot Coast Guard convoy escort ship, up and down the coasts of Virginia to Georgia, as smaller groups of ships assembled before joining larger convoys on the way to England.
On a short leave in Portsmouth in 1942, he was introduced to Katie Mae Monette, of Pollocksville, NC. They courted and married in October, 1942. Their only son, Walter James, Jr. (Jamie...Jim), was born in February, 1944, just a few weeks before Walter James, Sr., went to the South Pacific on the LST 792. His ship made the landings of Saipan, June, 1944, Iwo Jima, February 1945, and , Okinawa April, 1945. When Japan surrendered, he was transferred to the LST 204 to help transport troops back and forth from the Pacific to San Diego where most of the troops were discharged and headed back to their homes in post war America. In 1946 he was finally transferred to the Madrona in Portsmouth, Va., for two years...Then, he served on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Absecon out of Portsmouth, on weather patrol. Later, he was stationed in Mobile, Alabama, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Freeport, Texas.
He retired from the Coast Guard in 1961, following over twenty-two years of service, which included World War II and much of the Cold War years. After retirement he repaired the engines of large private yachts and oil field company crew boats in Freeport, TX. When he moved back to North Carolina in 1966, he owned a grocery store near Maysville for a couple of years. Then, he took a job as a diesel mechanic for Barbour Boat Works, New Bern. Later he repaired private yachts in Beaufort and Morehead City. He also maintained the railroad engines for the B. & M. railroad that carried jet fuel between Beaufort and Morehead City. For a few semesters he taught students at Craven County Community College how to repair and maintain the latest equipment used in the logging industry in Eastern North Carolina.
He was a member of the Franklin Masonic Lodge 109, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Beaufort, NC. He was also a Shriner for several years in New Orleans, La., and Freeport, Tx.
In the mid 1970's he returned to Cedar Island with his wife, Grace Gillette Goodwin, for several years before her death in 1987. They both enjoyed the water, the community members, and the wonderful sense of freedom that the Cedar Island generations have held so dear and special.
He was a Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church for several years, and had the privilege of speaking at many small churches from New Bern to the Down East communities. His childhood roots and faith journey are to be found in all of the churches on Cedar Island, Primitive Baptist, Pilgrim's Rest Free will Baptist, and the Cedar Island United Methodist Church. His recollections of Sunday School and worship services in the late 1920's and the 1930's were heartwarming, and often involved the sacrificial death of dive bombing wasps on summer mornings, or the ghost-like shadows made by kerosene lit lanterns during Sunday evening services.
Living in Kinston, NC, for most of the 1990's until 2011, he was the caregiver for his wife, Laura Philips Goodwin, who went through many chemo and radiation treatments from 1995 until her death in August of 2007.
He chose to simplify his life by living in an independent living facility in Kinston, from March, 2008, until February, 2011. At that time his son, Jim (Jamie), retired to bring his Dad, Walter James, back to his roots on Cedar Island. He enjoyed all who paid him a visit, brought by sea food or fresh vegetables, and who reminded him of wonderful past events in the life of his relatives and friends on Cedar Island. His vivid memory of the past helped all who visited him have word pictures of the way life once was on the six mile haven of heaven on earth.
Tough, yet tender, flawed, yet faithful, Dad was a treasure. He is one of the many wonderful women and men, the walkin encyclopedias of knowledge, freedom, faith, and courage, who were, and are, willing to meet life straight on, and never saw themselves as victims of the ever changing winds and currents of life. We are losing them at a rapid rate, and they are irreplaceable.
It has been my joy and privilege to be his son. I only had one Mom and one Dad, and they taught me the greatest lessons I ever needed to learn; To know Christ, and love God; to love others; and, to love myself.
He saw a lot of water go under the keel. And, it has all been an "adventure"!
Thanks be to God for his life and his love!