Robert “Bob” Dedrick Godwin
Robert (Bob) Dedrick Godwin died February 18, 2012, at Hospice’s Serenity House, on the day following his 91st birthday, from complications of pneumonia. He was born February 17, 1921 in Norfolk, Virginia to Joseph Henry Godwin and Sarah Adelaide Margaret Dedrick, and remained a Southern gentleman throughout his life.
He attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, leaving school to join the Army Air Corps (later Air Force) after Pearl Harbor. After pre-flight school in San Antonio, and primary flight school in Coleman, Texas, his assignments took him across the country. He served as a bombardier on B-25s, prior to piloting B-24s and AT-10s.
Flying into Sacramento he was intrigued when he heard a female voice from the control tower. After landing, he walked over to the tower, where he met Shirley Margaret Sebring. He liked what he saw and they were married June 22, 1943 in Sacramento, California.
The day after his wedding, he joined his unit on a train to Everett, Washington, prior to debarkation at Amchitka, Alaska, the most westerly island controlled by the Allies. He said that he was there for less than 90 days with the mission of “softening up Kiska and keeping their runway inoperable.” On August 15, 1943, he was part of an Allied invasion force which landed on Kiska, only to find that the island had been completely abandoned while fogged in.
He flew commercially for a short while prior to moving to California. He worked for Union Oil in various locations in Southern California for 37 years.
In 1968 he was offered an assignment which necessitated moving to Santa Barbara. He long held that this was the best decision he ever made. He loved Santa Barbara.
He and Shirley were politically active, working hard in the Goldwater and Reagan campaigns. In 1998 Bob became involved with the Young America’s Foundation in their mission to save from development a precious piece of American history — Ronald Reagan’s Western White House—also known as the Reagan Ranch or Rancho del Cielo.
Shirley died on May 16, 1990. Bob married Kathleen (Kae) Greer Stuart on March 29, 1997.
He developed a love of travel late in life, traveling to Egypt, Israel, the British Isles, Paris, Mexico (on the spur of the moment to see the solar eclipse), Hawaii, and cruised Alaska (twice). He took various riverboat trips, finally traveling the length of the Mississippi River. His children joined him on an American Orient Express rail trip to four National Parks, on a Thanksgiving Caribbean cruise, and a Young America’s cruise starting in Barcelona and ending on the beaches of Normandy on the anniversary of D-Day. His children have said that they will remember the interactions on these trips for the rest of their lives.
Anyone who knew Bob, knew how much he enjoyed watching basketball, particularly the North Carolina Tar Heels. The NCAA games were so important to him that he scheduled his second wedding to occur during half-time of a Final Four game.
During the last year of his life, Bob was assisted by the employees at Maravilla Assisted Living, by the loving staff at Abundant Care, and by the dedicated professionals and staff at Serenity House.
One of the greatest joys of his latter years was his interactions (especially the gin rummy games) with his best friend of so many years, Norm Rigby (Rae).
He is survived by his three children, Maggie Steward (Craig) of Santa Barbara, Rob Godwin of Woodland Hills, and Mary Christensen (Greg Ausmus) of Sacramento, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren as well as two step-children – George Stuart (Jane) of Columbia, Missouri and Glenn Stuart (Mindy) of Big Bear Lake.
A service will be held in celebration of his life on March 10 at 1:00 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 478 Cambridge Drive, Goleta.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Young America’s Foundation (217 State Street, Santa Barbara, California 93101), to support their mission of ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values, all of which Bob held dear.