Veteran fulfills dying wish: to catch one last fish

U.S. Navy combat veteran Connie Willhite was recently admitted to the hospice care unit at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia, when his health declined.

Discussing his end-of-life care with staff, Willhite made his wishes known: a baptism, then a last fishing trip.

“There’s nothing like fishing. Even when they’re not biting, it’s still a good day to be outside. I know I’m dying and the cancer is going to get me but as long as I can go, I want to fish,” Willhite said.

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During even the most challenging parts of his life, Willhite said he found that fishing could soothe his mind and help him escape for at least a little while from some of the stressful aspects of life and also help calm some painful memories.

With so many pleasant memories of fishing trips in the past, as he looked toward the end of his life, he wanted to go fishing one more time.

With the help of a motorized hospital bed, Willhite, accompanied by a social worker and nursing staff, was taken to the lake where he baited up for the last time on Aug. 26.

And he completed the final task: he caught his fish.

“I’ll never forget the look on his face. After all the preparation, we had no idea if he would actually catch anything. Seeing Mr. Willhite achieve success in his final days was more than gratifying, it’s a memory that I’ll always cherish. Moments like that make me proud to be in social work and to serve veterans,” said social worker Greg Senters.

Willhite died peacefully just three days later. 

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