Vietnam veteran Connie Willhite had a dying wish every outdoorsman can understand – he wanted to catch one more fish.
A native of Soperton, Georgia, Willhite was a U.S. Navy veteran and was being cared for at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, by the Hospice Unit when he asked for only two things before he died: to be baptized and to catch one last fish.
With his family at his side, Willhite was baptized by VA chaplain Sam Scaggs in a ceremony the veteran wanted so he could be prepared to “crossover.”
For the next part of his last request, Hospice social worker, Greg Senters, helped Willhite plan his final fishing trip, down to the bait and gear.
Senters and nursing staff took Willhite to Lake Leisure, a pond behind the hospital, and made their first cast.
Centers wasn’t sure they’d be able to catch anything in the pond, but Willhite ended up catching four.
“It’s called fishing, it’s not called catching. So I told him we may not catch anything, but he said it doesn’t matter,” Senters said. “He said just being out there doing this was just as good.”
Centers said that Willhite was just like anyone else as they enjoyed the outdoors while he was fishing.
“All of a sudden, the cancer and everything else went away, and what you see is that precious few moments of someone really enjoying life,” Senters said.
Willhite’s niece, Lisa Kittrill, visited him every day while he was in hospice and says he was a joy to their family. She’s thankful to Dublin VA for caring for Willhite and helping their family through this difficult time of loss.
“He talked and talked when I came in that day, and said he went fishing and got baptized, and for that I’m so glad,” Kittrill said.
Willhite passed away on August 29th.