Connie Willhite is a U.S. Navy veteran that proudly served his country in the Vietnam war. Willhite has proven he’s a fighter through his impressive military career. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to win his final battle against cancer. The Soperton native spent the final months of his life at a Hospice Care Unit at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, GA.
His final wish was for the opportunity to get out of the hospice facility for just a few hours so he could take part in his favorite pastime, fishing. Greg Senters, with the help of his fellow hospice social workers, made Willhite’s final wish come true.
Employees of the VA medical center took Willhite on a trip to Lake Leisure, a tranquil pond conveniently located a few hundred yards form the Hospice unit. Willhite would not only spend one of his last days on earth doing what he loved, he did it well! Nurses and other employees were concerned that Willhite might not catch anything. Senters told Willhite:
“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. He said just being out there doing this was just as good.”
Willhite shocked everyone by catching four fish before the trip was over. Senters told reporters that the trip transformed Willhite from a cancer patient to someone “just living life.” Senters couldn’t help break out into a smile when describing the pure joy on Willhite’s face when he hooked his first fish. He stated:
“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,”
One of Willhite’s cousins, Lisa Kittrill, visited him later that day and said there was a noticeable change in his demeanor. The normally quiet and reserved veteran “talked and talked” about his fishing trip. Kittrill told reporters it was the most talkative he had been in years.
Willhite died peacefully on August 29th.